Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Swim Meet

On Saturday the girls were able to swim in their first real meet of the season! They both swam really well. Ellie was in one relay and Mary Clare was in two! They improved almost all their times from the practice meet, which is great considering they have only made one practice each week for the past month! It was a full day since they were in so many events, but Daddy and I tagged-teamed pretty well and we had a fun time with two of our friends from church who both have 3 little ones each. We were wiped out when the meet was over and almost everyone napped that afternoon!

Farewell H&H!

We had a fun party the other day at a friend's house to say goodbye to our friends H&H who are moving next weekend. The hosting friends have a spring-fed pond on their property and the kids all had a blast swimming, sliding, and kayaking!

Notice the big girls rescuing Steven Joseph and his other 3yo friend J. They were trying to take off in the kayak together!!!

We were glad to be well enough to attend and celebrate our special friends from ballet and homeschooling. Then we ventured over to get the girls' exam results (which of course they did amazingly well), and then went to their first swim practice in about 10 days. We are finally diving back into life again and are so happy about that :-)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Playing outside

Playing in the yard this afternoon...

This little guy is nearly crawling. He can get on all fours, and can go from tummy to sitting, or even pull up on a short table or the side of the tub. He's loving his veggies...he's all about the peas, green beans, carrots, and sweet potatoes! He'll eat the fruits but not as well. He's still crying through the night and I'm hoping that's due to his teething or his tummy (from the antibiotics) and not a lingering ear infection. Big Baby was 23 pounds at the doctor last week!

Steven Joseph is almost all better! From pneumonia back to our feisty boy again! He's into all sorts of mischief as we're slow to recover and can't keep up with him. He will be more-than-ready to let out some steam when he's back at t-ball next week.

I have a feeling this gorgeous crepe myrtle is partly to blame for our issues. As soon as it started blooming...we started coughing!

This pretty girl has been very patient in waiting for her cough to subside. Doctor says the girls just have a virus. She's missed swimming and ballet and cousins' dance recital and even Sunday Mass, which made her so sad (I think I just need Jesus in me!). She's still having croup fits throughout the day and really bad at night, but hopefully we're on the tail end of it and can jump back into our fun end-of-year activities and parties very soon!

Ellie was the least sick of everyone but still had some coughing fits the past few nights. Right here I was telling her to please get OUT of the street. You can't see it well but she had a silly grin on her face. Oh my Ellie-girl...

We've been stuck indoors for awhile now...coughing, and coughing...and trying to rest up and get rid of our sore throats, runny noses, and miserable nights. The boys are nearly recovered from their ear infections and pneumonia after almost a week on antibiotics, but the girls and Mommy and Daddy all seem to have a coughing virus that is lingering. We're watching lots of shows, eating lots of popsicles, and making lots of messes around the house.

I wish I was a better sick-mom; I get so worried when they have these nighttime coughing fits. We haven't faced this croup stuff in about 2 years, and I hope we don't have to face it again anytime soon. The girls should've matured out of this, but I guess not quite...

Please pray for some healthy kiddos and parents!

But on a happy note...ARDEN IS HOME! Our sweet niece made it out of the hospital on Monday and will be having her heart condition monitored at home and by her doctors. Please pray that the medications will keep her healthy in the months ahead.

Daddy Daughter Dance 2011

We had a little reprieve from our illness. Everyone was feeling much better on Saturday, so we ventured out for our Daddy Daughter Dance with the homeschool group.

Daddy introduced his girls...

And they were seated for a fancy dinner on fine china!

Then it was time for dancing!

Mama with her boys

Daddy with Mary Clare doing the Virginia Reel

Ellie and J dancing away!

SJ started coughing after running around too much, so I took them on a walk and a drive before we went to pick up Daddy and the girls.

A fun night in the midst of about 2 weeks of sickness. We're still recovering...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Swim Team 2011

The Sharks have started their season! Actually it started in April, and last weekend was the Practice Meet. They took team photos the night before. Here's my attempt at the group; the quality is horrible...oh well.

You can see the girls on the bottom 2 rows, Mary Clare behind Ellie.

It was quite a morning! We had to tag team with a sick Steven Joseph, so Daddy missed all the swimming. Here's Ellie getting ready for her first event, 25m freestyle!

She led the pack! Actually she was #6 in her age group for both strokes! It's her 3rd year in the 6 & Under age group, so she has quite an advantage! Here are Ellie's times at the practice meet, so we can look back and compare at the end of the season:
Freestyle: 46.50
Backstroke: 54.94

Here's big sister gearing up for her turn at freestyle!

Mary Clare swam really well. Her times:
Freestyle: 31.66
Breaststroke: 45.75
Backstroke: 41.54

Way to go, girls! This weekend was the first meet, but we had to miss with the sickness going around the family. Hopefully next week everyone will be rearing to go!

Bees--Week 3 Hive Inspection

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blackberry Picking at the Farm

When we went out to the O family farm last week, I was telling the kids just how blessed they are to have 2 friends with farms where we can go out and visit often! We go to the O's in the fall for our All Saints' Day Party and in the spring for blackberry picking.

The drought resulted in a smaller crop this year, so they couldn't host the whole homeschool group. But she offered for individual families to come out, so we took her up on that offer with 3 other families last Thursday!

It was a cloudy day, and just as our afternoon was coming to a close, the strong winds and thunderstorms blew in! Everyone was thrilled for rain, but it was no fun to drive in!

Thomas did really well hanging out in the stroller, with his water bottle "toy" tied to it!

Even though E and SJ aren't big into blackberry-eating, they still had fun picking. MCgot right to work and enjoyed snacking throughout the day!

SJ was so happy to spend the day with his friend J; here they are with J's mom, my good friend nearing the arrival of her 5th baby!

The little guys had a blast throwing the non-ripe red berries to the chickens!

Then it was baking time!

Followed by a picnic lunch, tree-climbing, swinging, fort-playing, and freeze tag!

Oh to be a kid again and run around these green fields!

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Mother's Day Gift

We finally found what we were looking for! A nice fridge for sale nearby. I enjoy my online classified shopping, and am so happy when we get a great deal on something for the house. I just realized that in the past 6 months we've needed a new dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge! Yikes!

Steven picked up the fridge last night and we got everything moved over. Still need a small part to get the ice and water hooked up, and then we'll really be living large! A huge fridge with ice and water on the door; we've had enough of ice trays. Hopefully the constant demands by SJ for "COLD WATER WITH ICE" will be more easily fulfilled. The kids can get a drink themselves without needing to climb on the counter for ice and cups! I also made a mini-run to IKEA on Sunday to stock up on the kid cups, bowls, and plates which we've put in a basket in a lower cabinet more accessible for the kids.

I laughed after filling the fridge; we could put almost the entire contents of our old fridge in the DOOR of this one! Now I can stock up at the grocery store. Just need some healthy children so I can actually get out to the grocery store! The boys are still pretty miserable today.

The only disappointment last night was that Steven went on another "goose chase" for a wrought iron patio table and chairs, after picking up the fridge. We had some communication problems with the seller and he arrived to find no one home! I guess we're still on the lookout for a (very cheap) patio set. It's going to be terribly hot very soon in Texas, so it would likely be several months before we'd use it anyway. More time to scour the online classifieds!

Better get the girls back to their "real school" lessons. They've been coordinating a preschool for Steven this morning, with workbooks, crafts, and all. My cute little teachers!

And a quick prayer update: Little Arden seems to be doing better. Hopefully they have gotten the right medicines/doses to keep her heart at a normal rate. Please continue to keep her in prayer!

Why I'm getting nothing done...

My poor little guy has just been miserable the past couple weeks. I finally realized that along with this bottom tooth, he has also cut a top tooth. Then the other 2 front teeth are coming soon! Both the boys have colds this week. Steven Joseph has a croupy cough and some low-grade fevers, and Tommy is just congested, coughy, and fussy.

Today I sat with them in the car while the girls were in ballet class. At one point they were both fussing and both in my lap in the front seat of the car! I was filled with that overwhelming sense of gratitude for my two little boys, as well as that overwhelming sense...of being totally overwhelmed at the needs of all my kids!

After about a handful of attempts to put Thomas to bed tonight, here at almost 1:00 am I was finally able to put him in bed without him waking up. But SJ is coughing and still feels a little warm even after giving him meds. I give it less than 5 minutes until somebody needs me!

And that's how my life is these days. As soon as I start the dishes, start a lesson, put the wash in the dryer, start a blog entry, or even go to the bathroom, I am beckoned from someone in desperate need of my attention! It's exhausting but joyful all at the same time. Today all 4 of them were climbing on and off my lap and my chair while I was reading a bible story to them. For awhile it made me feel so loved, but then it just started getting on my nerves! Give me some space, kiddos!

But in going through these minor illnesses and needs of my attention, I am always reminded of how precious and unpredictable is the health of our children. Our sweet newborn niece, Arden Rosalie who is 3 weeks old, is currently in the NICU while they have been trying to regulate her abnormally high heart-rate. Please offer a little prayer for her healing!

These days with small children are numbered. These sands are falling through the hourglass and I will never have them back again. And so I try my hardest to be what I can, which is never enough, but with God's help I pray that I can continue to try to meet the physical, spiritual, and educational needs of each of these children. Every day with them is a gift, and I will try to treasure these sweet non-toothless smiles forever!

Friday, May 13, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

Mary Clare got glasses! Did I ever share that? The prescription is so mild that I'm not sure they do much good. They're just for reading, but sometimes she just likes to wear them for fun.

Are you wondering what she's holding here????

Meet our new family member, Kirby the vacuum! We are so funny about big purchases like this. We research and scour the online classifieds for days. Finally we opted to buy a used Kirby, heeding the advice of Lillian, who knows well what kind of heavy-duty cleaning machinery we need over here! Looking at the above bag of junk that came out of our carpet, I think it's working pretty well. We just need to work on keeping our floors picked up of big toys and such, so we can actually use Kirby!

Here's Thomas, Thomas, and Thomas! Steven's Dad is Thomas Richard, Sr. His brother is Thomas Richard, Jr. And then there's our little Tommy, Thomas William! He is named after some wonderful men!

Last weekend was another First Holy Communion Mass and celebration for our niece Paris. Doesn't she look like a little princess? The girls were thrilled to share in her special day!

As were some of the boy cousins (our boys were asleep during this photo)!

and hopefully none of those smiles were JUST based on the fact that we were at a dessert place and they were all about to pick a special cupcake!

The bees.
They seem to be doing well. They mind their own business. If you go near them you will only see a few flying in and out of the hive. No one has gotten stung yet, except Steven who stung himself on a dead bee! He says they are nice, tame, domesticated bees :) You can see the sacs on the sides carrying pollen on the one bee in the photo.

Mother's Day!
We had a nice Sunday. We attended the local church where our friends took this photo. Then we went to brunch with my parents. Later in the day I got to grocery shop ALONE while my family picked up the house. Then the girls and I went to a ballet production that evening. A blessed day!

My gift will be forthcoming in the purchase of a new (used) refrigerator. Ours is dying a slow death and we really need more space for food and a working ice maker. Water in the door is a priority too, so the kids can actually get their own drink of ice water without having to climb on the counter to get ice from a tray and water from a faucet! Please offer a little prayer that we will find the right (cheap) fridge close by, and soon? Thanks!

My sweet kids have also been working for weeks on some project for me in the garage office. Now they are saying it might not be ready until my birthday (in February)! I can't wait to see what they are creating!

Life is a bit crazy right now. I'm still in awe that we have 4 kids. Time is flying by so fast! I can't seem to keep up with cleaning, bills, or even feeding people on time. Honestly many days I lay down to nurse Tommy and just want to hide under the covers and take a break from the madness! The boys are very needy. Thomas is cutting his 2nd tooth and is screaming day and night. Steven is mischievous as usual, and days like today I spend a lot of effort trying to teach him to be kind to other children. The girls are finishing up their schoolwork, but are quite creative in the messes that are happening around the house, like a coloring project on the kitchen table, which has been there for a few days. I think I need to do a big "clean sweep," especially with the toys as we prepare for summer and, more importantly, as we prepare to have a CRAWLING BABY very soon! I am SO not ready for that yet. Lots of work to do!

And now, to rest for a few hours before the crazy morning of swim team and t-ball and a Saturday afternoon work day for Daddy.

See more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

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