Friday, November 28, 2014

Introducing our new Thanksgiving Friend!

and sharing some Thanksgiving memories...

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving week! Steven had an overnight trip back to Corpus Christi to get some important things that were left (my curtains and the Blessed Mother outdoor statue!). We got our first offer on our house, which was unfortunately way too low to even negotiate, but we've had some more showings and had heard that another offer might be in the works.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving meal here with my parents for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. Steven took Ellie and SJ on a duck hunting trip this morning. We visited our new local Costco store last weekend and had a fun outing to IKEA with some friends on Tuesday. We had a family photo shoot with some friends. We've enjoyed lots of family time with cleaning and cooking. The kids helped in the Thanksgiving prep and even put up Christmas lights in the front yard! Tomorrow will be our big Thanksgiving dinner with Steven's family, and we are all looking forward to that and the flag football game at the park beforehand.  We will have lots of fun memories from this week!

But our biggest decision came this week in the form of a new furry family friend!  Here's David Copperfield, aka "Copper!"

As I've shared here, we've been looking for a dog for weeks, and dreaming of a new pet ever since Timber passed away three years ago.  We knew we wanted to adopt an adult dog this time around, so we wouldn't have to deal with chewing and housebreaking. I've been looking at rescue websites, Facebook pages, Craigslist, and I've filled out a handful of very detailed applications for different groups. We found that prices can range from $20-350 or more, which is quite a range! Both of us were nearly at the point of just buying a new puppy because this process has been a bit overwhelming and it seemed the cost would be about the same. 

But I saw this little guy on Craigslist earlier this week, and we met him today at an adoption event at a Petco across town (in "Copperfield").  He was rescued about a month ago from the city shelter we visited last weekend. We went there on Sunday just as it was closing and there were dozens of people in line to adopt on the $20 day. It's nice that there are rescue groups that can be the "middle men" to grab these cuties, give them the care they need, and foster them to prepare them for life in a new home.  Because looking at them in the kennels was quite sad and overwhelming, and I'm not sure how people can go in there and choose a dog when you're faced with so many sad eyes and barking dogs wanting your love!

We were hoping for a mellow lap dog this time around, and well...he's a lap dog! Copper isn't quite the calm and submissive dog we were thinking we'd find this time. But after visiting with a lot of dogs, I realized we needed to have a more engaged and playful pet to handle our rowdy crew. I think our busy bunch would probably scare a timid dog.  Copper will keep our boys (and girls) busy, and will hopefully be a fun addition to our home.  We'll be reading up and watching videos on dog training, and we can already tell that he learns quickly and wants to please. Most of all he just seems like a happy go lucky dog, which we really wanted for our family!

My parents helped with watching different kids today while we went back and forth to the adoption event twice (due to my indecisiveness!), and my mom even helped think up the dog name. We were told by Steven's sister that Copper is also the name of the dog in the movie The Fox and the Hound! The rescue group gave us a harness, leash, food, etc.  My parents gave us their old dog kennel and bowl, so we are just about set!  They think Copper is a 4yr old Schnorkie, Schnauzer/Yorkie mix. His fur was shaved due to matting and fleas, but I can't wait to see his beautiful coat come in. I really hope he's a good fit for our family. He barked for a bit tonight, and had one little run out the front door, but is now sleeping soundly in his crate tonight, and I am looking forward to watching him become more comfortable with our family in the coming days and weeks.

Here are some photo memories from the week so far...
top row: family trip to Costco, clothes for family photos, MC taking Katie pics, Ellie with the desk she loves at IKEA.
2nd row: Tommy with an OJ popsicle from his new IKEA popsicle tray, Katie loves playing on the OUTSIDE of the exersaucer, my first homemade cranberries, and the lights the kids put up
3rd row: Steven did great with the turkey, the little spread, the sleeping daddy and papa after lunch, and the hunting kids this morning
4th row: Katie starting to crawl around at Nene's, empty seat before it was...filled with Copper!, and Daddy walking Copper at my parents'.

Hope the rest of your holiday weekend is just swell :)
We have so much to be thankful for. God is so very good to us and we are grateful to be here back home enjoying the holiday season with our families. I pray that this season we will be mindful of all that we have, content in our blessings, and willing to share ourselves and our resources with those in need. Praying for whoever is reading this that you will be filled with God's grace and Christ's love in the coming Advent and Christmas seasons!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Katie Grace, 9 Months Old!

Katie turned nine months old last week.  We are closing in on a year and it is flying by way too fast!  This little love is such a delight to everyone.  She smiles all day long.  Everyone is just so happy to see her and hug on her when they haven't seen her for a few hours, or even a few minutes.  We just can't get enough of our girl!  Mary Clare and I did a little photo shoot the other day, and here are some of my favorites...

You can see her two little teeth on the photo below!  She now has one top tooth poking through too.  She loves eating big people food and enjoys sitting in her high chair and watching the chaos going on around the house!

It was a little chilly so we added a sweater, and her hair needed a "little" bow! These pink overalls were Mary Clare's, a Gymboree favorite (6-12 month). She can still squeeze into some 3-6 month clothes, but is mostly in the 6-9 month outfits and inching into the 12 month ones soon!

We moved her into the backyard, and the leaves were just so tempting!

The boys had to be a part of the photo shoot too.  They always want their turn to hold her and "watch" her, and they're usually very gentle with their Katie.

She's starting to crawl, but mostly prefers standing up and is starting to cruise a bit around the furniture.  She takes about three naps each day, and puts up with our comings and goings for homeschool outings, ballet class, and church each week.  She's becoming a bit more active and vocal during mass now and has a much harder time napping away from home.  She'll still sleep in the Ergo and stroller/carseat for a short time though. She loves bath time and will tolerate the pack and play for quite awhile in the morning.  She only wants to stand next to the exersaucer though, and doesn't appreciate being trapped in it!  She loves to explore...

She likes putting everything into her mouth! It's going to be a challenging next few months once she becomes mobile and the Legos and crayons and other small toys become quite a hazard and temptation!

Happy 3/4 year, Baby Girl! We can't wait to share the holidays and new year with you. We all love you so very much and are so thankful this Thanksgiving to have another sweet baby to love.  I am in awe every day of how amazing it is that I get to have one more little soul to love and lead.  It's truly humbling. May God help me to be a better Mommy to you and your siblings every single day.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Wacky Week-7 Quick Takes

Two more days until Thanksgiving Break! I can't wait. I really just want to cozy up in bed and watch movies all day. This week has been quite a doozy with dental work, various little accidents, and topped off with a stomach virus! 

We did have some pretty moments throughout the week...

What's the baby eating?
Sweet siblings and a pool missile one morning...

Snow in Houston?
Some yummy Dutch Baby puffed pancake slices with powdered sugar. I commented on Instagram that this would be the only kind of snow we'd be seeing here in Texas!

Ballerina girls
Monday evening was ballet class, and I got some photos and videos since the teacher left the door open. The boys were with Steven so I had a quiet evening watching my ballerinas. 

Beautiful baby bundled up at ballet
She turned 9 months old on Wednesday!

Morning quiet
Tuesday also started off in a calm way with four little angels asleep in our bed. But it was a hectic morning getting to Nature Club and then back home in time to prepare for my own dental appointment. 

Dental adventure and shattered glass 
The dentist appointment was quite eventful. Reminder: leave baby with someone, or bring two people to help with her! She had a blowout diaper for Ellie and then was fussy after I went to change her. I still have half the work left to go! I guess all these babies and breastfeeding are doing a number on my teeth!

That night we had some adventures with more poopy pants (not the baby's), meanwhile the blender got knocked down from a high cabinet and shattered on the kitchen floor. Then we had issues stepping on glass shards the rest of the night until I was finally able to mop at about 11:30pm!

Vertigo and tummy bug
I had a few hours of vertigo symptoms yesterday and then came down with a GI virus in the night. The kids are having a few mild symptoms too. The girls were very helpful with the baby today during the hours that Steven couldn't be here. At least we're not in a hotel this go round!

Ellie reading to Katie. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be our club meetings and tea party, but it looks like we will be resting at home and starting off our holiday week with a bang...or a barf!

Hoping for some fun and pleasant moments to come soon!

More takes over at Conversion Diary!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week in My Life Finale: Dentist, Baby Shower, and Doggy Update

 Joining Kathryn's link-up at Team Whitaker!

Well, we left off on Tuesday night with a bowl of ice cream.  I sure needed that for the next few days!    I'll hit the highlights of the rest of the week, since I was too tired to blog the past few nights! (Please excuse the horrible quality photos on this post. One of my goals next week is to get out my good camera more!)

We woke up Tuesday morning to get Steven Joseph ready for his dental appointment.  I am SO grateful that Steven was able to help for a bit that morning, so they left just after 7am, and I followed with the rest of the crew around 7:45.  I was getting text message play-by-plays from Steven.  Poor SJ kind of freaked out in the beginning. We really didn't want to have to do the sedation drink (the appointment would be much longer, involved, and expensive), so we all powered through and he made it with just the laughing gas. I took over being in there with him halfway through, and I was SO glad I'd gotten him that reward, because he deserved it! He felt good enough for a library visit and then we stopped at Jamba Juice for some smoothies.

NeNe and PaPa came later that morning with some other little gifts for the patient, and they helped by mowing the lawn and folding clothes.  SO grateful for that!  

A little scene of everyone in the living room...

This little angel was pretty cute that day...

Other highlights of the week...

Katie prefers big people food.  Here she is with a puff pancake (Dutch baby).

This kid.  This was actually on Monday before the freezing weather started! 

I think this was Thursday night's kitchen situation, which I ended up leaving there for the next morning!

Typical Thomas. Eating a frozen yogurt tube and pouting about something.  I think he was begging me to help him get dressed, but I was cooking breakfast! The day before, he was barely dressed when his friend came to play at 2pm, so I think he realized he'd better start getting out of his PJs a little earlier!

Friday night was the group baby shower for my homeschooling group. This year we honored 13 moms, some with small babies and some whose babies are yet to arrive.  I like choosing special gifts for the moms; one year I even made diaper wreaths for each of them! Recently I've been giving small board books, but this year there were so many moms that it would have been a bit cost-prohibitive.  I had resigned myself to giving baby wipe packages this year, until Mary Clare became determined to find something on Pinterest!  I was glad to do something more creative than wipes :)

So on Friday, I took all five kids to Burlington Coat Factory, Kohl's, and Walmart.  I just wanted to be humbled, right? Actually I needed to get some things for the shower gifts, food to bring to the shower, and we have also been looking for some clothing items for certain kids like coats and boots.  They mostly behaved pretty well. I fed them Chick-fil-A first.

After about two hours of shopping, I just let them play on the diaper shelves. All four of the big kids were playing house back there behind the boxes and were having a blast.  Finally an employee walked by and I realized we'd better go before we got in trouble!

Katie enjoyed hanging out in the main part of the shopping cart!

A little "what I wore" of me and the baby. This has been a week for boots, and I found Katie this sweet birdy/flowery leggings outfit at Ross on Tuesday night.  I mostly have to wear the teething necklace, because she wants to bite any necklace. Once during Mass she actually broke one and nearly choked on the tiny beads, so I try to stick with this one!  The shirt ended up being a bad choice because it kept riding up at the bottom above my cami all night. Oh well. Please excuse Ellie's room disaster!

So here are my little crafters. I honestly did NOT ask them to make the gifts for me. They just started working as soon as we got home. MC actually wanted to bake a cake, but I said to just wait on that since I was taking over the kitchen making quesadillas to bring to the shower.

The finished product! Two washcloths wrapped together (used a tiny rubber band to secure), with a baby spoon taped on the back.

All of them together! I also added little tags before we left.

And some photos of the baby shower!  So. Much. Fun!  Love all these ladies and babies, and our friend Kiley was so kind to open up her gorgeous home to the group.

Today was spent resting and running errands. Steven's back is bothering him quite a bit, so we didn't make any progress around the house like I was hoping.  He did take all four of the big kids to the library and grocery store, so he wins SUPER-DAD for that! We had a nice Mexican dinner out, and I did some resale shopping with the baby this morning, and then some Old Navy and shoe shopping with her and Ellie this evening. I think everyone has a warm coat now, and the girls have warm boots. I'm still so aggravated that SJ's coat and shoes never showed up from the park. I haven't found him new tennis shoes yet.

My other fun part of the evening was getting a call from a dog rescue organization for a little "interview." You would think that adopting a rescue dog would be a pretty straightforward thing. We aren't picky about breed, and we don't care if it's a boy or girl. We just want a gentle dog that's out of the puppy stage, is kid-friendly, and house-trained. We're hoping for a little lap dog this time. So we went to a rescue kennel last weekend and the German owner looked us up and down and said in her strong accent, "Hmph. I don't know. We have maybe one dog who could handle all these kids." Bonkers was sweet but I just didn't fall in love. My friend is fostering a dog who might be a good fit but won't be available for a month or more.

I've emailed dog owners, have filled out extensive applications, and we haven't made much progress the past couple weeks. I was laughing so hard last night at one of the applications. It wanted to let us know that "caring for a dog/grooming could add up to $1200 or more a year" and wanted me to choose if "there's no way we'd pay that much for a dog" or "we would end up paying much more." Those were the only options. It asked for references and even asked for the name and contact info of who would take the dog if we died!  Wow!  I think most people read my messages or applications and see "five children" and immediately write us off, especially since some of the smaller rescue dogs can be overly active or aggressive.

I filled out one of the applications earlier this week, not even thinking the people from this particular breed would give me the time of day. It is one of the popular European breeds and most owners are very passionate about it. But while shopping tonight I got a phone call from the sweetest lady, asking me about my interest in adopting from their group. She loved the idea of me being home and homeschooling all the children. She was warm and friendly, and maybe one of those dogs will just be the right fit for our family. We will see.  We were planning to adopt a mutt, but maybe we'll end up with a beautiful purebred who also needs a home. Who knows!

Tomorrow starts our last week before Thanksgiving Break. I'm so excited! We will have to plan some fun things to do during that time, because I've been quite the strict mama about staying on top of schoolwork this year. I even declined another offer to join the science museum classes. Staying home on weekdays is really so important to our success and my sanity as we stay on track with our work. We should get through Week 14 of our syllabus before Thanksgiving, and then I guess we'll be at Week 16 before Christmas.  That break will be so nice!

We had two showings on our Corpus house this week, but nothing further.  Our Lady and St. Joseph, please pray for us!  Thanks for following along on this week, and just our family's life in general. Sometimes it seems so weird to know that all these friends (and some strangers) are keeping up with our lives while I journal in this public way.  It's funny when friends bring up stories from my blog or share how they enjoy reading about my crazy days. I'm sad that I don't know all that much about some of my friends who read this and who I don't see very often. But I guess I'm grateful that they know how our family is doing and that they care enough about our family to follow along!  Much love and many hugs to all of you who read and care about us, and I hope I can catch up with you all soon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day in My Life-a Busy Day including Mudpies, a Dental Visit, and a Martinmas Lantern Walk

Joining Kathryn's link-up at Team Whitaker!

Today I actually took some photos to document yet another crazy day-in-the-life of this wild family we have here! This day was atypical because of a dentist visit, errands, and a homeschool family event in the evening. Most of our days are spent at home. I really try not to leave the house until the late afternoon. Taking everyone on outings (as you saw yesterday) is just exhausting! But such is life with five kiddos!  Here we go...


Midnight: I was still awake and posted yesterday's blog entry. I was finally headed to bed when the boys both came in whining and crying. Steven Joseph actually began sobbing about more growing pains. He gets these maybe twice a month, where his legs just ache and I end up rubbing them and giving him Advil, and he finally falls back asleep.

I think I woke before 7. Steven was searching for jeans and I felt bad that I hadn't moved them to the dryer (but actually, I had). Baby started moving around and Thomas was probably inching into my space. Having their room down the hall hasn't really helped this issue like I'd hoped.  Here I'm just trying to will myself out of bed.

Introducing the newest member of our family...Samsung top-loader of 5 cubic feet! After a week with no working washing machine, I am finally catching up after doing about 7 loads the past two days! I could even fit all of our king sized bedding in one load! And she (the washer) sings a pretty song when she's finished.  Thank you Sammy the Samsung.  I hope you will last longer than our other washers (this is the third one with the same dryer! I think it's almost 15yrs old!). Putting a load in here was one of my first chores of the day.

I walked through the living room to find this little guy had moved to the couch to sleep.

But these two were still asleep in our bed.

I was hoping to make it out for my jog before the baby woke up, but all the kids started stirring around 7:30.  I finally made it out around 8am, with Steven Joseph at my feet! He likes to follow me up and down the street.  It was drizzling when I started, but it didn't last long.

After my jog, I came home to find kids snacking and ready for some mommy snuggles. I don't think I ever made any breakfast. But I read about four books. We've had these library books over a month and had only read a couple of them. I had checked out some great books on famous artists (including one in the "Katie" series). There were multiple fights over who got to sit next to me.  I pretty much had 3-4 kids on top of me for about 30 minutes. Tiring. Katie was sucking on Thomas' yogurt tube he'd just eaten. He actually ate about five of those today! She was dripping strawberry yogurt all over me. I was still in jogging clothes and kids were all still wearing their clothes from yesterday. Keepin' it real!

As the morning went on, I think I spent some time cleaning the kitchen, including dinner dishes from last night. The kids, meanwhile, got started on some very important work of the day: making mud pies in the backyard. Mary Clare had probably completed some schoolwork, but I'm quite sure Ellie and Steven hadn't done any work yet.

I let the baby smash up a banana in her high chair while I ate some toast, so then she needed a bath. Here's how she takes a bath most days, while I'm taking a shower in there. Other days she bathes in a laundry basket in the kids' tub (no tub in the master, which makes me very sad). Please ignore the scary, moldy shower, and just notice the happy baby. This was before she started trying to climb out of the baby tub. She spent almost my entire shower trying to climb out, so I don't think this arrangement is going to work anymore. My hair is all greasy because I guess I didn't rinse very well while trying to keep the baby from falling on her head or drowning! 
As a side note relating to house repair plans, I did call a water damage company today, who can come tomorrow to try to help figure out if/where we have plumbing and water leaks. The foundation guy didn't think it was foundation issues, so the issue may be water-related, which makes sense because the sloping floors are mostly near the shower, the fridge, and the washer. I'm not sure if this is good or bad news, compared with foundation repair!

So now it was 10am, and I was ready to put the baby for a nap just as the kids finished playing outside and needed to get in the shower (I should have made them go to their own bathroom). So as usual, it took me quite awhile to get her to sleep with the loud kids in the bathroom (no door between master bathroom and bedroom). The kids showered and got dressed and I assumed they were starting their schoolwork. But no, I found Ellie wearing hunting earmuffs and old glasses, and singing to herself in the mirror! Caught!

This is the time of the day that seems to disappear very quickly, from about 11-3pm we do school and eat lunch and deal with crises and crying and chaos.  I'm not sure how much schoolwork really got done this day since we had to be at the dentist at 2pm. I'm pretty sure they did their main subjects. I don't even have pictures except this one of Katie eating some tiny bits of rotisserie chicken at lunch. We scrounged some leftovers (she LOVES mashed potatoes!) and baked a frozen pizza for the boys. Meanwhile it was time to start getting ready for the dentist!

Steven had a dental appointment about 40 minutes away, so I'd planned to leave an hour early. Instead I left 30 minutes early and was late. Oh well. It only took a few minutes of checking his old x-rays and his teeth and giving me a treatment plan that looked a WHOLE lot better than the $$$$ one from last week's dentist! I had forgotten that we really must see a dentist that is in-network if we don't want to pay thousands of dollars for work on baby teeth. The girls stayed in the car with the sleeping baby, and then after we were done and I fed her, we all went back into the dental office for a bathroom break and to tell them we'd take a slot for tomorrow morning at 8am! Praying and hoping that he does well without the sedation meds.

This little guy brought his toy pliers and was doing some work on the doorknobs as we were taking our bathroom break. There may or may not have been a small accident that required additional time for changing clothes.

So we loaded back up and headed back to our area. We were going to attend a St. Martin Lantern Walk with our homeschool group, so we needed a few flashlights and little battery-operated candles. I stopped at Walmart and went in with three of the kids. I'd also planned to pop popcorn, which didn't happen, so we made a stop at Trader Joe's for that. We had some more shoe drama. Apparently one of the children left his NICE tennis shoes and ONLY coat at the park last week. I've made three phone calls and can't find them. Lots of the boys' things are hand-me-downs, but these were actually NEW items I'd bought him. So frustrating. We did find him another pair of handed-down tennis shoes in the garage, and he tied them together at some point in the car ride and was upset that no one would help untie them. Here is MC showing the shoelaces.

One child had a dire bathroom necessity and whined the entire five minutes from Walmart to Trader Joe's. I sent the girls in to the bathroom and then sent SJ in with cash to help them buy "five bags of popcorn." Instead they bought three (the girls didn't believe him), so I ran inside and bought some more!

CUE: Screaming baby. The next hour we were in the car the baby was crying. But I had found this IKEA shelf for FIVE DOLLARS on our online classified website and had to go pick it up at someone's house that was just a few minutes out of the way. Then we had to run home for coats/sweatshirts for a few kids. So we were 30 minutes late to the event. I was very flustered by the time we arrived, and I still had to sit and feed the crying baby while letting the others out into the dark park!

Here's my only picture of the St. Martin walk! We had flashlights and lanterns and sang some songs about St. Martin. It was a nice walk. Except the part where the kids kept whining about how cold it was. Then we had hot cocoa, popcorn, and donuts, and visited for a bit.

Here's Tommy's lantern that MC made with a toilet paper roll and a flashlight.

We finally got back home and Steven had started some spaghetti for dinner. Katie was asleep and Steven had forgotten to get Return of the Jedi from the library like he told the kids, so I offered to go...Can't you tell I went to the library?

Actually the library was closed for Veteran's Day, so I made a quick stop at Ross for a little prize for our dental patient and a little fall outfit and socks for the baby who seems to be in-between sizes for cold weather clothing of the girls'. I got home and fed the baby and then fed myself some spaghetti. Moved another laundry load. Cleaned up a little, and then started encouraging the kids to get to bed. Gave some encouragement to the scared dental patient. 

I'm not sure why they were in our bathroom here, but I came in to change the baby and this was the conversation going on:
Ellie: "I hope I win the lottery the night before I get engaged so I can have a really big wedding!"
MC: "I think I want Chick-fil-A to cater my wedding."
Tommy: "I want a big motorcycle cake at my wedding!"

Daddy fell asleep first. The girls were sent off to bed after a little cat fight that may or may not have involved biting. Ugh. The boys fell asleep in our bed, Steven very quickly as usual, and Tommy very slowly as usual (10pm). Now it is time for my ice cream and blogging! Just another crazy day in my life. I'm really tired after re-living it again!

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