Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"You're Gonna Be a Builder, Mommy!"

Saturday snaps: Katie and Birdie who came to visit, Hallie welcoming us, up HIGH on the Omni elevator, Jen encouraging us cathedral-builders, Katie taking a break from the Moby wrap, mamas on the dance floor, Katie and Evie-last babies on the dance floor, Aggies at Edel, and back to reality and a little guy who didn't want to go to mass!

On Friday night I posted some snapshots from Edel, but now I'll share a bit more about this AWESOME weekend at the Edel Gathering!

 The Beautiful Omni Hotel

I was so excited when I found out that some of my favorite bloggers were coordinating a Catholic mom's weekend this summer and that it would be in AUSTIN!  The travel time is about four hours each way from here in south Texas, but it was still so much closer and cheaper than for those who made great sacrifices to come from all across the country!  I was grateful to be able to room with my sweet friend Andrea, a taste of the real life friendship we will get to enjoy when I move back "home" in a couple months.

fuzzy lens, but sweet baby resting in our room

I am pretty much a total extrovert with a capital E, so I didn't have many worries about meeting new people or feeling out of place since I happened to know a couple dozen of these ladies already, either from college, from homeschooling circles, or from blogging.  So I was totally in my element all weekend, meeting new friends, chatting with old friends, eating that fantabulous hotel breakfast (breakfast buffets are my fav!), and dancing into the night.  (I've been feeling so bummed that we haven't attended weddings in the past few years, because I miss the DANCING!)  It was really special to meet a few ladies who have actually read on this little blog here, and nice to know that some of my posts, especially those about my c-sections, have been encouraging to them.  It was physically and emotionally challenging to experience this weekend with a five month-old baby strapped to my chest, or fussing in the back seat, but it was so very worth it.

more of Friday night Cocktails and Crazy Shoes, from my real camera

It's hard to put into words what the talks and the whole experience meant to me.  I have felt so ISOLATED the past few years living in a city where I feel like no one understands me, and we have missed out on a lot of the activities that my kids and I enjoy.  It's been like a three year retreat, from which I'm about to emerge, and this was a little taste of what I'm about to experience with my local friends again in that COMMUNITY that I'm missing!  I was thinking about how most conferences and retreats are scheduled to the minute with morning prayer and mass, talks every hour, sometimes even silent dinners.  This was the exact OPPOSITE of those experiences, and just what my soul needed.  There was hardly any structured time, just a few talks, with most of our time spent socializing...my favorite!  Usually when I go to conferences I spend most of the time talking with people rather than listening to the talks.  It's truly what my heart enjoys. Plus add in music and dancing, and my heart was very, very happy :)

 Also Friday night

Words that spoke to me over the weekend...
Hallie Lord: "It is good that you are here."  Marion Fernandez-Cueto: "Will this choice enable me to go further in love?"  Haley Stewart: (about the test for her unexpected pregnancy) "I've never wanted anything more in my whole life." Jennifer Fulwiler: (on finding the patron saint for the event, Venerable Edel Quinn) "Female saint who likes to party."

Katie and Birdie Saturday morning

Today when I was thinking about how to express the message of this gathering, I was pondering those thoughts that were shared by Jen about the way we are Building Cathedrals.  The builders of so many of the great cathedrals never got to see the fruits of their labor.  Their work may have seemed insignificant, but all those little bricks and mosaics turned out something brilliant for God.  We hope that each little daily action of changing a diaper, wiping a nose, making another lunch quesadilla, done over and over again, though it feels so monotonous, is truly helping to build up some beautiful souls for Heaven.

from the roof...

and from the elevator...

My 3yr old Thomas came up to me a few minutes ago and started a poignant conversation:
Tommy:  What do you want to be when you grow up?
Me:  A Mommy, of course!
Tommy:  No, what CHARACTER do you want to be?
Me:  What do you mean?
Tommy: I know what you want to be: You're gonna be a BUILDER, Mommy!
(I think he was referring to Bob the Builder, but still)

Tex-Mex buffet

Aggie girlfriends

Ballroom decked out for dinner and dancing

So, yes I am a builder.  I am a builder of cathedrals.  I am a builder of these little souls that God has entrusted to us.  Many days my life seems monotonous, I feel isolated, and I'm frustrated by the little daily battles that happen when homeschooling a brood of children.  But I am not alone.  These other builder-moms are on this journey with me.  I am blessed with real and online friends who encourage me in this journey, and I'm grateful for weekends like this when we can just BE together and be reminded that we are not just moms, we are still women who enjoy dressing up and having a good time.  It was truly refreshing for my soul, and I hope that I can make Edel 2015!

And a few more iPhone snapshots...
with my Momtographer friends, Colleen, Diana and Lauren

Crazy fun in the elevator!

And an elevator selfie decked out on Saturday night!

A big shout out to Steven and to all the dads who held down the fort so the moms could enjoy this special time together!  Steven even joined in the live Twitter stream that was projected on a screen in the ballroom.  He was out of town all week, and then came home late Thursday only to be forced into a miserable weekend of a three day swim meet.  Superdad, THANK YOU!

Venerable Edel Quinn, pray for us!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Snapshots from Edel

This weekend I'm in Austin at the Edel Gathering with Catholic moms from all over the US. It's like all my worlds are colliding with friends from high school, college, homeschool friends, and blogging friends. So. Much. Fun!

The events of the weekend started with some last minute shopping with Katie on Wednesday. A friend offered to watch the other kids, so we hit the mall! Here she's laying on a fitting room bench.

Found some cute new outfits on clearance for my weekend partner! 

Mary Clare made her matching shoes to go with mine. Crocheted the booties and sewed flowers. 

Laying out our clothes to pack up!

My feet are ugly but my toenails are pretty with Jamberry wraps!

Heading into downtown Austin! Katie did great on the drive!

Hanging out in the lobby and meeting new friends!

More happy ladies in the lobby. 

Grabbed some dinner at the restaurant. Katie had some fun with her new Sophie giraffe. 

Then it was time for Cocktails and Crazy Shoes! Mary Clare's handiwork. 

Met so many old and new friends. This is an online friend who I met for the first time. 

The Edel coordinators with the crazy shoe contest winners!

Katie and I are calling it a night! More fun to be had tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Motivate Me Monday! It's our Anniversary!

Summer fun from the past few weeks~
first row: SJ silly at the dentist, watching movie at the dentist, our fav shaved ice spot, girls in their new swimsuits, and MC with half a cake on her half bday
2nd row: pretty baby, calabaza con pollo, ruffle bum, big head nursing, T chasing me while jogging
3rd row: MC holding baby while I jog, MC's jam berry nails, SJ holding K, me with all the crazies on the couch one afternoon, rainbow while jogging
4th row: sunset while jogging, beach day with daddy, big sis lil sis, K in Bumbo, and T and K in the stroller while I jog
5th row: girls at day 2 of regional swim meet, K and T playing in the boys' room, beach day with friends, putting my feet up at swim practice, and girls in the backyard pool

A new week begins!  This will be another challenging one, with Daddy possibly gone for most of it.  But I have a reward at the end with my mom's conference this weekend!  I've done my exercise today, and Katie is behaving herself so far.  We are off to a good start!  Here are some goals for my week...

~Complete my orders of homeschool materials.
~Mail check for girls' club
~Bills from K's birth
~Dentist-decisions about kids, make cleaning appt for myself
~Packing for Edel, clothes for me and for K, buy makeup and dress
~Exercise 3 more days
~Jamberry nail time
~Start some organizing/packing
~Buy some more storage bins for K's keepsakes and clothes
~Post this blog entry before someone erases it!

And a little note to share that we are celebrating 13 years of marriage today!  We won't be able to celebrate together, so last night we had a family dinner at BJ's Restaurant.  It included a chaotic car ride, kids jumping on benches and climbing windows, crawling under tables, biting siblings, throwing spit-wads, shaking wet straws, whining, my "quick" run into HEB that ended in pandemonium, and just an overall reminder of how crazy and fun this life is with all these little people.  I'm so proud of my husband and our little family (except dinner behavior), and am very grateful for 13 years of blessings!

Bitty Blue Eyes, Colic Queen

Katie Grace is five months old!  It's hard to believe that this much time has already gone by.  She will be eating foods, sitting up, and even crawling around before we know it!  Those beautiful blue eyes attract so many people.  Everywhere I go, strangers stop me to tell me how beautiful she is, especially her eyes.  Today I was in Target with all three girls, and the lady in line in front of me was just gushing about my three girls.  They really are beautiful, inside (most importantly) and out.

Katie usually gives a good performance when we're outside of the house.  But if we are at home or the car, she often gives us a little taste of what we've missed with our other four children...colic!  This poor baby is not sleeping well and is very fussy especially in the evenings.  I talked to the pediatrician about it, and we're trying some medicine, but I think she just has a much more sensitive tummy than the other kids.  Hopefully it's just a phase, but it's still so hard to see your baby hurting, and the lack of sleep is getting to Steven and me too.

This weekend, Katie and I will have our first weekend "alone" with 150 other ladies (and some babies) at a mom's conference.  I've been looking forward to it for many months, and I know after this challenging summer I am ready for a break for some mom time with lots of friends!  Only now I'm worried about how Katie will do in the car and at the hotel.  I hope I can still enjoy myself and her tummy troubles settle down a little bit.

But enough of her fussiness, she is doing new things every day!  She loves her exersaucer and the Bumbo seat (for about 5-10 minutes).  She is starting to grab toys and put them in her mouth.  She loves the bathtub and would stay in there all day.  She enjoys staring at water bottles while you shake them, and they have saved us during a few crazy car rides!  She has been riding in the jogging stroller a few times a week while I do my jog/walk.  She will tolerate the swing if she's already asleep, and sometimes will get a good nap there.  She's almost always happy in the Moby wrap or Ergo carrier.  She loves her Soothie pacifier, and sleeps the best when she's wrapped up in a swaddle blanket.  I'm pretty sure she could roll over, but she screams when we put her on the floor, so that doesn't happen too much!  I can't wait to see what the next few months bring as we reach her half-birthday and other fun milestones.  We love you, Katherine Maria Grace!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rockport Art Gallery, Science Center, and Beach Park with Friends, July 2014

We haven't had many visitors this summer, so we were excited when some Houston friends decided to come for a night!  We ate BBQ and hung around the house, with kids making s'mores around the fire pit on Monday night, and then on Tuesday we headed to Rockport for some beach fun!

We were hoping to visit the free aquarium, but I didn't realize it was closed on Tuesdays.  The free science center opened at 1pm, so we went over to the art gallery first.

While we waited a bit for the science center movie, we had a picnic lunch next door by the bay.  The boys were just a little wound up.   My friend has four boys and one girl, and they all had a great time!

These next two were taken by my friend...typical Steven Joseph.  I had just told him to stop climbing.

Nine kids and two moms rocked the art gallery, science center, and the beach.  Supermoms!

Sweet girls

Science Center

They project a movie onto a huge sphere hanging from the ceiling.  It's pretty cool.  The one we saw was about planets.

Onto the beach...
Miss Colic Queen is just not crazy about our outdoor activities this summer!

But the rest of the kids had a great time!

We will definitely miss living so close to the beach.  Hope more friends and family come to see us before we move (hint hint)!  And anyone interested in a fun vacation spot in south Texas, check out the quaint little fishing town of Rockport.  We love it!  Thanks for coming to see us, F Family!  We had a great time.
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