Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A decade for Ellie

 At 14mos (Katie's Age)

Our beautiful Elizabeth Ann Marie turns ten today! It's hard to believe we've already had a whole decade with this sweet girl. She is full of life and love...always daydreaming, always dancing, always willing to lend a hand.  

Her room tells her story. It is filled with all the treasures a girl could love...crafts, magazines, candy wrappers, and all kinds of little trinkets and memories. And now it holds the desk she's been wanting for months. Daddy agreed to a family trip to IKEA on Sunday (his "penance"), and spent almost three hours assembling the desk Monday night before he left on a business trip. Now she has a place to craft and draw, and maybe, just maybe, finish her schoolwork ;-)

We love you, Ellie Ann, and hope your second decade is even better than the first! We can't wait to share it with you. May God's hand always guide your every step, and His Mother's mantle cover you and your precious heart.  Happy Birthday!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

So Much Crazy

 (I wanted everyone to wear their Easter clothes so I could take a photo, but only 3/7 of us ended up in the same clothes this Sunday! At least I got one decent shot and a cute one with the grandparents!)

This season of spring sports and finishing school and having colds and a teething baby and a traveling daddy is a bit rough. We've all recovered from the crazy Easter weekend and the latest cold viruses. We got to enjoy this past weekend together, with a busy Saturday including two baseball games, a ballet practice, and a trip out to the farm for the others while the baby and I rested at home with my parents and later with my friend Beverly.

Sunday mass was a bit reminiscent of the Easter Vigil due to another standing-room-only crowd for a group First Holy Communion mass.  Neither Steven nor I got a seat. The big girls sat with friends and Steven Joseph sat with my parents who came to visit the church. The cry room was total insanity with shoes and colored pencils flying, lots of loud talking, and a mic system that wasn't keeping up with the noise level! We retreated to the vestibule, but couldn't hear in there either. Thomas pretty much throws a fit before church every Sunday, whines during it, and Katie Grace is now loud and active, so I think this is going to be our Sunday mass situation for awhile.  It's all about the grace though; thankfully we get to receive Holy Communion, whether we can follow the mass or not!

On Monday, Steven headed out of town on a work trip, and we were back to school. I was saved by "my Maria" the cleaning lady, otherwise I think I would be losing my mind. I also started back with the Couch to 5K program this week, so hopefully that will keep my mental and physical health in check. We were triple-booked for evening activities with swim team, baseball, and ballet. We skipped swim team (after an attempt to at least buy his gear, but the one-day "swim store" wasn't opened yet), dropped the girls at ballet, and arrived at baseball practice just as the youngest two kids fell asleep. I figured I'd just stay in the car since I had a decent view of the batting cages. But the ending time for his practice came and went, and his team was nowhere to be seen, and I still had a sleeping preschooler. I tried a frantic text to some other moms on the team who I don't really know, but ended up schlepping the cranky, fussing 4yr old and hungry baby around the ballpark to find them practicing on the k-ball field. We got home at 8pm, and thankfully the girls had a ride home from ballet.

We had a little scare that night when SJ got out of the shower and showed me the GIANT bug bites all over his legs. He had about eight, and they were huge, hard, red, and hot. I got some topical creams put on him and hoped for the best (no big reactions, so I think he's okay). After an evening nap, I knew Thomas wouldn't be able to fall asleep with the others, so I let him stay up and watch some Netflix shows. The only problem was that I fell asleep around 11pm before turning off the computer. SJ woke up crying about his itchy legs at 5am, so I got some more medicine on him and went to make sure Tommy was soundly asleep in the living room. WRONG! Yes, I do win Mother of the Year! My 4yr old watched TV until FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. I think I probably shouldn't admit this, but oh well. He fell asleep immediately and slept until 10:30am.

Things could only go up from there, right? Tuesday wasn't too bad; I actually got a haircut! That is, I gave myself a haircut which had to be fixed by the 12yr old after she took a photo of it for me and I realized how bad it was. The haircut was done with dog scissors, because they're the newest and sharpest scissors in the house! We were about 10 minutes late to piano in the afternoon, but that was because I got a last-minute offer by a friend to keep Thomas and let MC come over to help. The teething baby would hardly nap all day, until right when I needed to take SJ to swim practice. I left the girls to watch her at home, and let the boys bike down the street while I walked. The lack of sleep started to hit Thomas while I was letting him ride his bike around parts of the pool parking lot (they're doing "dry land" practice). He wanted to bike around the parts of the parking lot where I thought there were too many moving cars, so he just cried and fussed for about 15 minutes and continued all the way home.

Tommy Boy had a dinner of strawberries while I baked a (frozen) lasagna for the rest of us. He fell asleep at 8pm, so hopefully he will catch up on sleep. Katie, on the other hand, would not go to sleep. I tried about three different times, tried the stroller, and tried letting her play. But it was after 11pm before she finally crashed.  Typical day-in-the-life, with maybe a little more crazy thrown in for good measure the past few days! We only have about a month left of school, so we are anxious to finish things up and have a nice summer break! Right now, though, there are quite a few things I need to get done, so here is my very-late-night checklist to refer to...

1. Two items to the tax guy
2. Locate math solutions manual and catch up on grading MC's math
3. Complete grading for last semester and mail the work items and report cards to the consultant
4. Make sure MC is caught up on current work that the grader needs
5. Three returns to Amazon
6. Two returns to local stores
7. Just noticed that I'm supposed to bring snacks to Wednesday game (if not canceled)!!!
8. Wednesday Noon Mass?
9. Friday 4-H and Park Day
10. Confession, Baseball, and Ballet on Saturday
11. Start making peg saints for the exchange!
12. Re-enroll with MODG for next year

And I'm finally posting this late Wednesday night/Thursday after about 24hrs of trying to get my computer to load the photos! It finally worked. We did make mass today, made it to the store for baseball team snacks, and Daddy made it home! Inching closer to the weekend and to summer break! Thanks for following along with my rambling.

And some snapshots from the past week...
Top row: watching another game as we left the ballpark, Katie loved the car at a friends', moms hanging out, and the Resurrection Tea we put together for their girls' club
2nd row: two photos of the lake at our friends', Katie enjoying some baby toys, and exploring nature outside the dance school
3rd row: Couch to 5K with Leo, mega bites on SJ's legs!, Tommy not happy during brother's swim practice, and Katie refusing to sleep
4th row: my trainer following me and encouraging me to run faster, MC's flower arrangements made it a week!, sleeping angel baby, and a selfie found of MC :)

Thursday, April 09, 2015


~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Spring has sprung here in Texas, and we've been enjoying some outdoor adventures! 

A few Sundays ago we attended our old parish downtown for their 145th anniversary mass with the Cardinal. It was a beautiful mass and nice to visit this church again.

Afterwards we had brunch on the Waterway with some friends and had a little impromptu photo shoot. It was one of our first nice sunshiny days.


A gorgeous day at the park last week!

{funny} and {real}

It has been a crazy week so far, starting with the 4:30am bedtime for me after the Easter Vigil. We've had some kind of cough/allergy/virus, keeping adults and kids up at all hours of the night and are 1/3 of the way through our SIX baseball games of the week! I just got an email that swim team dry land practice starts on Monday for Steven Joseph, at the same time as his baseball and the girls' ballet class.  I am ready for a slow summer schedule! 

Some funny and real moments of the past few days...

When we finally started the front yard egg hunt on Sunday, Leo escaped down the street! Naughty doggy!

We also had a little scare when the kids left this in the backyard and the dog had some GI issues but was thankfully okay. No chocolate for doggies!

Tommy's first of three games this week

He finally earned the game ball this week!
Big brother was very proud. 

Someone fell asleep on the way to big brother's game last night.
He doesn't really fit in this stroller! 

Our house is pretty much falling apart, but hopefully we're getting closer to the possibility of renovating or moving. Just one example of the crazy things that happen in this house...

 Woke up this morning to this happy baby who was putting my necklace on and babbling away!

I've had to use couches to barricade the doorways so I'm not chasing down the baby all day long. The rest of us are having an interesting time getting around the house!

Happy Easter Week, friends!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Happy Easter! Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Update

Well, it's been over two weeks. My mother-in-law said it looks like I gave up blogging for Lent, and I guess that pretty much happened, yet unintentionally. We had some sickness, and still have colds, and I've had a couple shows on Netflix I've watched in the evenings. Then the past couple weeks as we prepared for Holy Week, my heart had been elsewhere.  I'll do a categorized update of what's been going on...

My friend
My first and most important update is about my dear friend Beverly. We're the godparents to their youngest daughter Cecilia, and you've probably seen them on the blog quite a few times. They are the most generous, friendly, faithful family with such big hearts for serving others.  We've been part of the local Catholic homeschooling group with their family for many years. Beverly has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Gastric Cancer and has started chemotherapy. We are praying for a miracle through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and I'd love it if you'd pray with us.

 Our Little Walker!

Katie (13mos) was taking a few steps around her birthday but the past couple weeks has really taken off! Now I'm chasing her all day and everywhere we go. Mass has gotten very challenging and even places like the baseball field become difficult as we follow her and make sure she doesn't tip over or eat something off the ground! She tends to have a constant bruise on her forehead, just like her siblings did in their early walking months. She's not really talking yet, just her favorite word, "Oh!" She's a very happy girl, except for the few days this year that she's had a fever or cold, which usually coincide with the breaking through of new teeth. She's cutting her third molar right now, poor baby!

Baseball and Ballet

We are keeping very busy with their activities after a couple weeks off for school Spring break (our own Spring break was this past week). In fact, I think both boys have three games this week! So that's six games in the next six days! I'm so glad Steven isn't traveling this week. Thomas is losing interest in baseball a little bit. He gets too tired standing "baseball ready." His K-Ball doesn't do scores or outs and they just run to one base during each play. So it gets a little boring while Steven Joseph's games are just starting to get exciting! Steven is still a focused and aggressive player. He plays short-stop but often tries to run all over the field playing whatever position someone isn't doing to his liking! The girls are preparing for ballet exams in a few weeks, so they now have practices each Saturday along with their other classes twice weekly. The recital will be in early June, so they still have awhile before intense preparations for that performance. Ellie and Steven have continued with weekly piano lessons, although Steven's interest is waning. He will start swim team as baseball winds down. I need to get some more photos of Steven Joseph and of the girls at ballet this week, but the above ones are pretty cute of Tommy's team!

Lent and Holy Week

seeing Cinderella after Confession

Moms supporting moms

Doing some schoolwork with the K kids while they were over

Dinner with the K kids

Playing egg hunt with friends whose mom just had a baby

The Great B Family Shoe Census of Good Friday

I always end Lent feeling like we could have done more. But we did make several weekday masses, we tried to work on our daily prayer, we worked on a bean jar of sacrifices, and we supported our friends in need of help during this season.  We fasted and abstained from meat on the required days, which is very hard for our family. We started what we hope will be a monthly tradition of going to Saturday morning confession with friends, followed by a fun outing. This time we went to breakfast at Chickfila and then to see the movie Cinderella. We loved it! This past week we cleaned out the garage, several closets, my car, and had a big shoe census! We donated about 6 trash bags of clothing and shoes. I think that should be a Holy Week tradition. We're down to twice monthly with our cleaning lady, so we have to step things up a bit with our own chores around the house. The girls had their regular girls' club with their Lenten tea, and have also started their own little sewing club with some other friends. I've really enjoyed a few Mom's Nights Out, as we've been able to encourage each other so much during this hard time for our group. On Friday we attended the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross at our new parish, which was a beautiful service, although I was wrangling the two smallest ones. We're getting used to two hour Sunday masses, so this wasn't all that different, but just at a different time and on a day of fasting and abstinence which made it a bit harder. Steven's family held a Fish Fry on Friday night so that was our time to visit with his family. It has been a fruitful Lent for so many reasons, but we are so glad that it's Easter Time now!!!

He is Risen Indeed!

We decided to attempt the Easter Vigil Mass this year. For those blog readers who aren't familiar with it, the Easter Vigil is the longest Mass of the year, starting after sundown, and in our case lasting about 3 1/2 hours. It includes things like the lighting of the paschal candle and from it candles held by all those worshiping, 7 long readings from the Old Testament, many other readings, special prayers, and hymns, and the Baptisms, Confirmations, and First Holy Communions of new members of the congregation. It is a beautiful mass rich in the Traditions of the Church and one we haven't attended since having children.  Our new parish also hosts a "St. Lawrence Grill" or a BBQ party afterwards, so we were there until 2:00am.

We knew this would be difficult, but we definitely underestimated just how difficult it would be. Katie and Steven slept for about the last half hour, but other than that the children were all awake and the youngest two were quite challenging. Our day had started with two baseball games, so we were outside from noon until about 4:30, a few of us getting sunburned, and then I ran a few errands and came home to quickly get everyone showered and dressed. We also had to stop at the grocery store on the way to church for some items for the party. We arrived 25 minutes early to the 8:30pm mass, but the church was already packed, so Steven sat with two of the older kids (and sometimes Thomas) near some friends in a pew. Mary Clare was in a folding chair at the back, and I was in the cry room with Katie and later Thomas. The church starts in darkness so we arrived to a dark church and shrieking baby while trying to find seats. The cry room babies seemed to be testing just who could shriek the loudest and attempt to wake the other children asleep in strollers or on the floor.

I spent some of my time in the vestibule, a few minutes in the back of the church with Katie in the Moby wrap, a lot of time with her outside in the piazza area, some time pushing her in a stroller, most of it in the cry room trying to keep her calm, and about half an hour in the pew as a headrest and drool spot for a sleeping Steven Joseph. At one point I took Katie into the bathroom with me. She found a paper cup and tried to drink out of it, knocked over the trash can, and tried to stick her hands in the toilet. At another point an older toddler tried to hug her (in the dark cry room), but instead tackled her straight to the floor which made her cry hysterically. Thomas did well overall with a few bribes of candy and a lot of Easter excitement. Katie was given a water bottle, cheerios, yogurt melts, and lots of nursing. I have always refrained from snacks in church until this child. With five kids, all my previous rules have flown out the window, especially during a long mass like this!

Needless to say, it was a very long and arduous mass. We also had runny noses and coughing kids, which didn't help. I'm not sure I really heard much of anything, except for that half hour in the pew. And we were too worn out to really enjoy the party afterwards, although we were grateful for a few minutes to visit with a family we hadn't met before. We had a very hard time recovering this morning! We are all still coughing and tired, but are so glad we could spend the day resting at home. And I'm glad we tried the Vigil mass so that now we know it's probably not the best idea for our family. I hope some of the beauty and rich Traditions will be remembered by the older kids, and we certainly had some special intentions to offer up as we faced those little challenges.

The quote of the night by Thomas:
About halfway through the Mass, "Daddy I think Mass is almost over because I already counted to 9000!"

I tried to no avail to get photos, so I will have to dress everyone up again next weekend!

And here a few photos of Easter day. We had my parents over and went out to a nice dinner. It was a lovely restful day, celebrating life, love, and family and the great gift of Our Resurrected Lord!

Happy Easter from our silly family!
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