Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Motivation

Top row: Sunset while driving to the farm, Katie awake late at night, Tommy on his birthday after mass at St. Mary's
2nd row: Katie (7mos) and Pio (6mos), me on the hotel elliptical, MC crocheting and watching Little House while the rest were swimming (old soul)
3rd row: Katie asleep in the Ergo, awake on the hotel bed, and playing in her thrifty play pen...a laundry basket!

Happy Monday!  Except it just ended.  Welcome, Tuesday.  This is a week filled with Catholic feast days.  The Archangels, St. Therese, the Guardian Angels, and St. Francis feasts are all this week.  I'm really feeling like a slacker in celebrating the beautiful feasts of our Church with the kids.  At least the girls had a Michaelmas tea last week at their girls' club!  One of these days I will feel settled again and able to create some more fun family traditions.  I was also reading about some preschool ideas on Catholic Icing, and was thinking about just how much my little ones would enjoy doing a few extras like crafts, games, centers, etc.  Being a former early childhood teacher, you would think I would have a home filled with fun kids' activities, but I think I need to work on some of that, especially when we move.  I'd like to take extra time to make some fun learning memories with the boys.

We are back home again, jiggety jig, and all that.  I really hate that drive.  I'm looking forward to taking a long break from road trips once we move!  It wouldn't be so bad if we could travel in one car, but doing it separately is rough.  Today I was reading about some moms in Central America who have to walk eight hours to get to a hospital to have their babies or to get any medical help, and it put these kinds of complaints into perspective!  Please pray for Colleen, her family, and the people they minister to in Costa Rica.  They run a home for pregnant mothers who live in a remote forest reserve, to help them before and after delivery, and during other times of medical need.  My other current prayer intention for those I follow online is for Mary and her daughter Courtney.  Courtney has had a seizure disorder since she was a baby and doctors believe she will be going home to the Father in the next few months.  Please say a little prayer for their family too.

We had some drama at bedtime tonight.  Steven was in the guest room watching a movie on his tablet with some of the kids, and Thomas fell off the bed, knocking his head on a wall corner.  After about 30 seconds, they turned on the light to find that he was bleeding EVERYWHERE!  I had just gotten Katie to sleep and rushed upstairs to help.  It was about an hour of cleaning mattress, carpet, bedding, clothes, and people.  Steven looked like he'd been in a war zone with blood all over him.  What an end to another crazy day!

We're having a few challenges staying on top of the schoolwork with all the changes going on.  I really wish this whole move had taken place in the summer!  But more to offer up in prayer, right?  It was nearly 7pm before we finished our work today.  Tomorrow I've got to get going early in the morning!  But today I needed to pay bills and take care of some house things after arriving back last night.  I think I did save us over $1000 by making some phone calls about the baby's hospital bills from her birth, so I guess the late start was totally worth it!

Now I need to get to bed and I'll write out a few goals for the week...

~Start school by 9am, try to finish by 3pm!
~Do grading of schoolwork right away.
~Continue gathering info and forms for a health insurance change.
~Take car to Discount Tire for leak problem.
~Car also needs to go in for inspection and recall updates.
~Grocery store for oil, laundry detergent, etc.
~Returns at Old Navy.
~Cook something other than breakfast fare, rotisserie chicken, and frozen pizza!

Have a good week, friends!

Top row: Katie sitting by the mirror, Ellie doing her online class, Tommy helping with laundry
2nd row: fun at Top Golf, Katie eating keys, a yummy and pretty lunch at Top Golf
3rd row: the shortcut to our hotel room from the pool area, Ellie and SJ at the pool, and Tommy at breakfast asking if I knew where OJ comes from :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Happy 40th Anniversary

to NeNe and PaPa!

Images from our lunch outing today...

Seven Quick Takes

I haven't joined the Friday Quick Takes link-up at Conversion Diary in awhile, so let's see if I can give a few updates, albeit a day late!

The House
We're nearing four weeks since it went on the market and seem to have 1-3 showings each week.  No offers yet, and we're getting worn out.  We also feel we've exhausted our efforts at finding a house we like in our price range here in the Houston area.  I pretty much have a once weekly breakdown where I feel like I cannot do this any longer!  I love being here while Steven's working in town, but staying in a hotel with five children and trying to homeschool is VERY challenging, as is being in our Corpus home while trying to keep it show-ready.  We didn't expect it to take very long to sell, considering we bought two days after it was listed, and there was another offer on the table!

God is giving us many opportunities to grow in all kind of virtues like patience, kindness, humility, charity, etc etc.  We've had lots of challenging moments and the hotel has gone over and above to accommodate our big family and not offer even one complaint as I'm sure they've gotten many from the guests in neighboring rooms about crying babies and screaming children!

And so with all that said, we've decided to now throw in the towel with the house search for now and go back to our original plan to move back into the home we already own here in the area.  The tenants have been so good, and we didn't want to move back with a plan of moving again in the near future, but at this point we need to just get back to the area and reevaluate once we have a home base again.  Maybe we'll decide to stay there long-term after all.  The location really can't be beat!  And this will allow us to be more patient with selling our home in Corpus Christi.  Please offer a prayer that things will fall into place quickly both for the tenant family and our family.  Thank you!!!

St. Joseph
I met an online friend for the first time in person this week.  She lives in the area where we'll be living and has one little boy between the ages of our two boys.  She is also from Italy!  We've had various online conversations about homeschooling, Catholicism, photography, jobs, and house hunting and it was so nice to finally get to talk to her face to face and meet her son.  She has an incredible devotion to St. Joseph and shared so many stories of answered prayers through his intercession.  She gave me a lovely prayer book to begin the 30 Day novena of the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph for the intention of our home selling and buying.  I started it yesterday, and the prayers were beautiful.  I am a total failure with novenas though, so I am hoping I can follow through on this one.  It's very long and my focusing abilities during prayer right now are very lacking.  We will see how I do.

The Race that Knows Joseph
Speaking of meeting new people and St. Joseph, I was thinking about Anne of Green Gables and how in the current book I'm reading, "Anne's House of Dreams" they talk about knowing if others are "from the race that knows Joseph."

“You’re young, and I’m old, but our souls are about the same age, I reckon. We both belong to the race that knows Joseph, as Cornelia Bryant would say.”
“‘The race that knows Joseph?’” puzzled Anne.
“Yes. Cornelia divides all the folks in the world into two kinds—the race that knows Joseph and the race that don’t. If a person sorter see eye to eye with you, and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes—why, then he belongs to the race that knows Joseph.”
“Oh, I understand,” exclaimed Anne, light breaking in upon her. “It’s what I used to call—still call in quotation marks—‘kindred spirits.’”
—Captain Jim and Anne defining ‘kindred spirits’ in Anne’s House of Dreams

Have you ever had that experience?  I absolutely LOVE meeting new people, and I especially love it when there is that instant connection where you know that you can relate to them on a different level than most.  I feel so blessed to have many friends who I would call "kindred spirits" and who encourage me in my vocation as a wife, mother, and homeschooler.  It's nice to have Facebook and other online opportunities to make friendships with those who aren't in our community.  There are so many of you lovely ladies who I just hope and pray I get to meet one day!

And I am definitely loving the "Anne" series.  I have mostly been reading it while exercising on the elliptical at hotels over the past couple months.  Yesterday I read while jogging on the treadmill, but that wasn't very easy!  I can't wait to share these books with the girls.  They are so rich with ideals of life, love, truth, humor, and beauty!

Keeping Busy
We've been good about staying "home" during the daytime and completing our schoolwork.  But a few afternoons and evenings have been filled with fun things like grandparent visits, dance class, mom's nights out, park visits, and special outings with Daddy.  I am so grateful that the ballet school here allowed us to register the girls and do some drop-in weeks while we are in town.  They are taking classes in their previous levels as well as the level below, and they are catching up quickly with such dedicated teachers and good training.  I am loving the time with those kindred spirit moms at the studio.  It's definitely one of my favorite parts of the day when I can sit and visit and watch the girls dance!  Thankfully we've had the help of my parents and sometimes Steven to help with the carpooling.

I made it to a Monday Mom's Night last week which was balm to my weary soul.  I love these ladies so much, and it's beautiful to remember years in the past where exciting events like new pregnancies were shared.  Now some of these moms are becoming grandmothers and every one of them has some poignant bit of wisdom to share each time.  This will be another reason to enjoy being back in our old home, as it is very close to all the restaurants where my friends meet, it's right off the highway for Steven's commute, and it's only about 10 minutes to the ballet school.  Hopefully we will find some nearby activities for the boys too.

Heart Anniversary
This week was the 3rd anniversary of Steven's open heart surgery.  Each year on the Memorial of St. Pio of Pietrelcina on September 23rd, I take some time to remember this life changing experience we went through.  It was over two years of knowing the surgery would be happening, and then a couple months of preparation.  The days leading up to the surgery were terrifying, and the actual day of the surgery is one I'd never want to relive.  I remember the hours in the waiting room just imagining what was happening to my baby, and the fear that surrounded the whole experience.  It was a true lesson in having hope, finding peace, and trusting God.  I am so grateful for modern medicine and the fact that his heart defect and surgery were minor, comparatively speaking.  One of my sweet friends did not have the same outcome with her baby boy who died at 5 weeks old of a very severe heart defect, and today on Facebook she shared a little of her heart and some gifts that she has kept all these years, including a picture colored by Mary Clare.  Oh how it pains my heart to think of the mothers who have to endure a life without their babies!  May Our Lady who knows the pain of a grieving mother hold them close.

Parent's Anniversary
Tomorrow my parents will celebrate 40 years of marriage!  I hope and pray that Steven and I will follow in our parents' legacies of long marriages (I think his parents are at 52), and as is prayed during the wedding mass, that we will live to see our children's children!  Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Here they are at the farm last weekend:

Home Again
Tomorrow we will head back home after a week in Houston.  Once again I'm dreading leaving our family and friends here, and going back to the house with the stress of showings and the lack of social activities for my extroverted self.  Hopefully we will be able to make some of the events of our homeschool group there; it seems we are always in town on the "off" weeks of events. But now we may be spending a longer stretch at home as we prepare to make the big move in about a month!  Hope it's a blessed Sunday for all of you!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thomas' Birthday Photos

Here are some snapshots of his special day out at the farm...

The night before

Early morning mass at their little German painted church.
Everyone looks half asleep!

After mass.  Happy boy!

He fell asleep on the Gator and got a nice little nap before the celebration

And then he got woken up to see the cupcakes made by NeNe and his presents...

He loves the Rescue Bots!

Singing practice

 Daddy lights the candles

Happy Birthday to You!

An adorable farm wallet sewed by Ellie!

And an Aggie backpack with a toy Gator

Plus lots of farm toys and Transformers from us and from NeNe and PaPa

Scarfing down those mini cupcakes!

And loving those toys!

Happy Birthday, Thomas William!

Glad you got to have such a fun day at the farm!

A special outing to Chuck E Cheese late on Wednesday night for a final celebration!

A fun birthday week for our big four year-old!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Four Years Old! And some Tommy Funnies

Big Tommy boy turned four years old today!  We ended up coming to the Houston area a day early, so we spent his birthday at the farm with the godparents and their kids. We went to a very early morning mass, then went back to the farm where they blew up their bounce house, he got to ride on the kid Gator and the big Gator around the property, my parents came to celebrate, and he got to have cupcakes and open a lot of fun presents!  He was thrilled with a bunch of Rescue Bots and farm toys, which will hopefully keep him entertained at the hotel this week! We love our affectionate Thomas and can't believe he's already four! 

I've been keeping a list of Tommy-isms the past few months and thought this would be a great time to share them!

He said he wanted a cape for his birthday.  
"Ellie thinks the cape's not going to make me fly."

While on a road trip in two cars (girls always ride with me and boys with Steven), he kept asking Daddy how long until they would get to Prasek's (pit stop). Daddy said if he asked one more time he wouldn't be able to go into the store when they arrived. He was quiet for a few minutes and then asked, "Well, when's MOMMY going to get to Praseks?"

Asked me one morning after a donut breakfast:
"Can I have a Popsicle for dessert? I ate my donuts!"

One day while the baby was fussing:
"I think Katie's crying because she wants a fishing rod."

He kept repeating:
"I don't like gaws."
"No I don't like gaws (garrs). They have fins like fish and mouths like alligators."

"I like this backyard (Surfside beach house)."
And later, "Can we go to the hotel that has a beach in the backyard?"

At the extended stay hotel:
"How does the couch turn Into a bed?"
I respond that it's magic! 
"Well, can it turn into an airplane?"

Was not happy about getting his hair cut but was hoping for a treat after being brave. They didn't offer anything. So as we leave Great Clips, he walks slowly through the doorway, glances back in, and says loudly and wistfully, "Sometimes they give you lollipops..." 

I tell him that Katie can only eat soft foods like bananas and avocado. 
"Can she eat butter?"

We asked what he might want for his birthday. 
"I know what I want. A REMOTE CONTROL VOLCANO!!!"

Happy Birthday, Thomas William! May it be the best year yet!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You discover treasures

1st row: Eating a popsicle and doing schoolwork in the hotel bed, she loves chewing on apples, my favorite "Customer with Child Parking," selfie of Katie and Ellie, and Thomas swinging Katie at Teddy Bear Park
2nd row: Ellie and MK reciting "America for Me" at the picnic, sweet godsisters, Tommy and his rocket picture, me teaching in the hotel room, and Ellie on the elliptical in the hotel after we all freaked out when she disappeared in the workout room for 15 minutes
3rd row: Katie loves pizza crusts, back home doing a puzzle by the front door, Katie trying bananas and avocados, my new curtains made from bedsheets, and me on the phone with my MODG consultant while hiding in an upstairs closet with hunting gear
4th row: sweet sisters one morning, kids asleep in my bed, more sweet sisters, crazy school morning while T is begging me to print him ninja color pages (taken by MC), Katie awake late at night in her exersaucer...a typical night this week.
5th row: Ellie loving on baby first thing in the morning, an MC selfie, all pink in the exersaucer, Ellie's fortune at the Chinese restaurant "You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual." SO VERY ELLIE!, and MC with Katie checking out a fountain

I love all these special little moments with the kiddos.  I am truly blessed to be able to experience these snapshots of our life with little photos as memories.  I can't wait until Steven's schedule slows down so he can share some of these with us too.  Even when I'm weary, I know we are still making memories, living out the days in hope and prayer, and trying to smile in the midst of it!

We had to leave for another house showing today and I was worn out.  I pulled into one of our favorite restaurants to have a restful lunch where the kids could play in the game room a little bit.  Instead, it was closed down and we ended up at a Chinese buffet.  I had to stop the car so many times on the way there, and the way home, because the kids were misbehaving.  I was ready to throw in the towel.  But we walked into the restaurant, and I forced a smile on my face and tried to enjoy that little lunch with my five favorite kids.  I am one blessed lady.  Truly, they are each Blair's Blessings!

Ellie's fortune was so poignant, "You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual."  I think I could write a whole post about this.  She is always hunting for coins at any public location.  She hoards all kinds of crafts and whatnot around her room and in her purse.  But most of all, she finds joy in the little moments.  I had a special time with her at the hotel pool one night and she just talked and laughed and didn't stop smiling.  That's what I love about my Ellie...seeing the bright side of life! May we all see the silver lining of every situation and try to smile on those days when it's really hard.  Thanks be to God who puts others in our path to help us find and choose joy!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving is hard.

I have so many posts I want to write.  Ideas going through my head each day, but rarely a time to sit at the computer alone, unless it's 11:45pm like it is right now!

It has been one of those days.  I was feeling really good this week...we were making it through our schoolwork (sometimes not until 8pm, but usually in the mid-afternoon), I was feeling peace even in the midst of all our unknowns, I was handling Steven's long hours and overnight trips, and I was thrilled that we'll soon be heading back to Houston for another week.  But last night I was getting weary and had a sore throat and headache, and I awoke feeling even worse this morning.

Then I got the text I've been dreading (yet still hoping for) all week.  It was 8:30am and I was awake, but still resting in bed since I wasn't feeling well.  "I'd like to show your house between 10 and noon."  YIKES.  That gave me an hour and a half to get the house show-ready, get five kids dressed and out the door, get myself showered and dressed, and instead of having a trusty 11yr old helper, Mary Clare would be doing an online class during most of that time frame.  Ellie was a huge help (even until 11pm tonight, she was helping with the baby), and the boys behaved well enough and only made a few messes of strawberry smoothie drops as I was trying to clean up.

We made it out the door at 10:05am and I felt accomplished.  We got breakfast, ran by Steven's office (since his car held one child's only pair of shoes), and we went to the mall.  I got Katie some sweet new clothes too...baby girl clothes can always brighten a day!   But then we didn't really start schoolwork until mid-afternoon and didn't finish it until close to 7:00pm.  The baby was fussy, I still have a head cold, Daddy will be gone tomorrow and Saturday, we'll leave for Houston on Sunday (Thomas' birthday for which we have no plans or presents), and we still have no idea what will be happening with the house situation.

Moving is hard.  This will be our 8th move since we've been married.  Three different apartments, a duplex, and three houses have been "home" for us the past 13 years.  I know it's nothing compared to military families who move every year or two, across country and overseas.  It's surely nothing compared to the displaced families on the other side of the world struggling to have their basic needs met.  I cannot even fathom what they are going through.  But this tiny cross is still hard for me.  I'm longing for a forever home, and praying that things fall into place soon.

I'm not sure the last time I've worked physically as hard as I did the week before we listed the house.  But the work has been worth it, and even if it takes forever to sell the house, at least we are living with so many less "things," and that makes life just much more simple.  I think we all miss the photos on the walls, some of our books, and probably some of the kids' toys and crafts.  In a few weeks we might be missing our fall clothes quite a bit if we don't get this house sold and moved so we can locate and unpack the sweaters and jackets!

We are slowly making the transition.  It was nice to have some down time at home this week, and next week we will be back to hotel life and our fun activities of ballet, nature club, playdates, grandparent visits, and their Friday clubs in Houston.  It's hard not knowing when or where the next step will take us, but it's also somewhat freeing to just live "in the moment" and wait for His will to be done.  There's a peace in the waiting, even though it is so emotionally and physically difficult.

Since I'm talking about all that we've done in the house, here are the photos of what it looks like, all clean and ready for showings.  We have been truly blessed to live in this beautiful home for the past almost-2 years, and I hope the family who buys it next fills it with many more happy memories!

Our Lady, pray for us!
 St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Jude, pray for us!
Thank you all for praying for us, friends!

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