Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year, New Seven Quick Takes

Apparently, we're supposed to all be back to the regular schedule, but I'm finding it very difficult this year.  We've had a soft start back to school, really only focusing on Math and the other essentials.  I'm hoping that tomorrow I can muster up enough energy to face our school room to revamp in there; I may even go out and purchase some new supplies to spruce things up.  Between my third-trimester-tiredness and the fact that Summertime seems so very far off, I'm feeling uninspired.  The Christmas stuff isn't down either, and it's driving me crazy.  (I don't know how people leave stuff up starting in November...the visual clutter is more than I can handle.)  So what am I doing instead of teaching children, obsessively organizing my house for the new year (I'm not too worried on this...I know nesting is coming in hot), or running necessary errands?  I'm sitting here with a delicious cup of coffee, listening to my little ones enjoy a phonics video on a dreary January day, and writing up Seven Quick Takes...

When I was growing up, my parents always had their favorite music we listened to.  I can remember them recording their vinyl records on to TAPES (hahahaha) - The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, etc. so that we could listen to them in the car on road trips.  And then we all like to remember that one road trip to Oklahoma when my Dad was on an Andrea Bocelli kick, and we listened to "Time to Say Goodbye" about 14 million times on repeat.  
Ha ha ha.  Oh we laugh.  Oh Dad, you're so funny.
Except I've turned out to be JUST like him in this regard and I had to giggle yesterday when Colette came in the kitchen to ask me why "that song" is on again...
Here's a gratuitous and unrelated picture of my cute Shih Tzu, Clive, hanging out with me in bed while I indulge a sudden pregnancy craving attack for toast with Kerrygold butter.  My usual nighttime cravings are apples or cereal, so I think Charlie was just pleased that I wasn't crunching in his ear!
Last summer, one of my girl friends wore a stunning pair of earrings that I just loved to a formal event put on by the apostolate my husband works for.  As long as I can remember, I've been a large earrings sort of girl, even in high school when I wore giant hoop earrings probably every single day (with a bun.  every day).   I asked her about them and then socked away the information for a pertinent time, that time being my birthday last weekend!

After a trip to the Kendra Scott Color Bar (I had no idea this was such a Texas thing, like James Avery, until later!), I was thrilled to add these beauties to my collection.  Charlie also gifted me with a stunning new Bulova watch (I am an everyday watch wearer, but Sundays drive me crazy because I don't want to wear my HRM watch to Mass so I never know what time it is...).  I don't feel very pretty during pregnancy, so some new little baubles have been a really special treat.
(And, if my husband needs some tips for the anniversaries...or mother's day...or Tuesday....I really love these as well!)

Speaking of birthday gifts, Charlie not only found me a fabulous watch, but also presented me with Father Jacques Philippe's newest book, Thirsting for Prayer .
My reading choices the other day while waiting on my girls in ballet class...
I have loved everything I've read from Fr. Philippe and am so excited about this book!  I have a feeling it's just what I need right now.  His books are small, but do not be deceived, they are powerful!
Funny enough, Father is going to be speaking at a parish about 3 hours North of us at the very beginning of March.  I'm due March 15, but I'm trying to convince Charlie it's safe for me to go!  It's safe, right?!  My deliveries are super fast, but majorly late, so...we'll see if I can talk him into it!  haha

I'm officially 31 weeks pregnant today, and I have to say, even though we're in the less-than-ten-weeks-to-go realm, I still feel like March is such a long way off.  It's helping me to remember that Lent begins in less than 5 weeks, so if I can keep myself sane until then, it shouldn't be long after.  I love the Lenten season, but I'm already thinking about making Easter plans and Easter baskets for the kids and Baptism plans for Adelaide now, because I know I won't be able to do it once she arrives!

I feel good, I'm still working out about 3-4 times a week (weights and walk/running), not indulging too much in my cravings, and have gained about 15 pounds less than usual at this point.  All my tests are coming back in tip-top shape, and it's helped me to realize that all the hard work I did to loose weight before this pregnancy is positively influencing my health and my baby.
I thought this quote perfectly pertinent to pregnancy...

Do you know one of the things I miss the most from my regular, non-maternity wardrobe?  Pretty pajamas.
I have a lovely collection of feminine pajamas that I feel comfortable wearing around my children (all with pants, because I hate for my legs to touch) but still make me feel like a lady, not a college student.  (Kind of like my diaper bag dilemma, which was solved by the way by two different wonderful, generous gifts that I'm looking forward to using, I much prefer beautiful to cute.)
Of course, none of these fit me right now, and I miss them!  I've been looking for pretty maternity pajamas, maybe even some that would also function as nursing pajamas.  No luck though.  (Most of them seem to be short gowns, which I simply can not tolerate.)  Does anyone have any tips??

I just want to say that, barring the clothes we're currently wearing, all the laundry in my house is clean right now (even sheets & towels).
I just want to breathe this in, because it never happens.

This morning I woke up really early to see Charlie and Gabrielle off on their hunting trip in the Texas Hill Country.
Packing last night.  She just now texted me from Charlie's phone to share pictures of her lunch and how excited she is!
I was still so tired after I fed the kids breakfast and had a cup of coffee, so I snuggled with Joe for a while and he told me stories.  Truly, it is amazing how different it is to have a boy-child after all these little girls.  All of his stories had to do with a knight or someone similar saving people from bad guys (or scary animals like lions and bears).  My favorite one was when he told me all about Mary, baby Jesus, and an angel being saved by a knight from a "big, cary lion!"  His valiant male heart just melts me.
He cracks me up!  I love that big smile full of crazy teeth!
Please visit Kelly for more Quick Takes!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Waves and Wind Still Know His Name

I don't usually have a long time to invest in reading an individual blog post, so I'm under no illusions that someone reading along here might skip over this video.  But may I exhort you to consider at least setting it aside and listening to this song, think it over, sometime?

My birthday was on 1/4...I'd like to just intersperse some pictures from that evening in this post...even though they're not relevant.  It was a WONDERFUL day starting with Mass and then my sweet friends threw me an impromptu birthday party - coming over to make me migas, and brought along mimosas, birthday cake, and decorations!  It was so special.  A day I will long hold in my heart.
Charlie sent me the link to this YouTube video yesterday, telling me that it reminded him of me.  I'm wasn't really sure about why, especially since I've been battling an anxiousness I can't seem to put my finger on for the last week and a half or so, but when I pressed him, and considered his answer later in prayer (he knows me better than anyone, after all), I realized that God has gifted me with a peace that I never used to have.

Worry has been long ingrained on my heart.  "What if's" used to rule my world.  But God has worked a wonder: He has erased doubt, and written in gilded letters across my soul "It is well."

That doesn't mean my life or my mind is always in compliance with what I know is written on my soul.  In fact, just in the last two days, two different everyday life issues have kind of fallen apart on us...closing doors we were eager to walk through, or making us wonder what to do next...  But I was pondering "bad news," and St. Paul came to mind:

"...for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want." Philippians 4:11-12 
Over the years, a lot has happened.  Plenty and hunger.  Abundance and want.  But until probably 3 or 4 years ago, it never occurred to me to ask God to quell the restlessness in my soul.  Until I read this book on retreat (I knowwwww....I mention it on the blog all the time!), I didn't understand what to do.  I didn't understand, truly, what Paul said after the above commentary: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me."

It's hard to remember on a rational level, especially while pregnant.  I'm moody and grumpy and one little thing going wrong can send me into a tailspin of sadness or frustration, or hibernation where I just refuse to meet the outside world.  Even as I feel I'm drowning in the waters of my hormones, my brokenness, and my lack of virtue there is a steadiness.  Everything moves and trembles above this anchor of knowledge, but it can't move enough to dislodge truth.

The truth is that I am, and you are, created by and loved by a good God.  The truth is that we are His and that gives us eternal value in His eyes.  Worth.

In her post What I Wish Every College Woman Knew... (which is not just for college women, by the way, it's for all women - including younger women - M&C read this!), Leah Darrow states,
 "We cannot understand or know ourselves, the fallen creatures, without first knowing and understanding God, the perfect uncreated Being. True womanhood takes on the task of knowing thyself which presupposes knowledge of God. It comes down to knowing your worth." {emphasis mine}
One time, I asked God if He really loved me.  His answer was a clear and resounding yes.  I know my worth.  I know I can trust my Father.  I know He gave me an intellect and gives my husband and I the grace, through our sacramental marriage, to push through this pilgrimage of life and it's struggles, practical and spiritual, together with Him.  And this mountain that's in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea...

So even on bad days, and on sad days, and on hormonal or fearful or worrisome or tragic days, and especially happy, peaceful, joyful days, I'm going to choose to to tell myself, let go my soul, and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name.  

"Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:68-69

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Thoughts on Epiphany

What a lovely, lovely Christmas it was for our family this year.  We had a slow, meaningful Advent, followed by a festive and joy-filled Christmas, and tonight on the feast of Epiphany, we'll mark our door with blessed chalk once again, 20 + C + M + B + 15 (to represent the name of the wise men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, as well as Christus mansionem benedicat, "May Christ bless this house.") and watch The Star of Bethlehem.

As it is almost time to run children to ballet, we're back to the usual grind here, I'm going just post up some pictures from Christmas and call it good.  (Soon I have some photos and reflections on my birthday the other well as a whole slew of things I'd love to think out loud about on the blog...)

All my sweethearts before Midnight Mass (and the dogs)

Our beautiful parish church after Midnight Mass.  It was an amazing night, what a joy!

I set out stockings in our master bedroom so that the children can come in and open them on the bed.  This prevents Mom & Dad from having to get up, and gives the coffee a chance to brew!  The girls were so sweet this year, they made each other wait to venture in until 8am after such a late night!  (I went to bed at 3a!)

PopRocks are a stocking tradition, and I found this peppermint variety at a local toy store.  They were hilarious as usual, but even funnier when one of the dogs accidentally got a few!  

Joe's favorite stocking stuffer, and gift overall, was his Yoda Lightsaber.  Many battles were embarked upon.

We like to try and open gifts slowly through the day, taking breaks to enjoy new treasures, one another, and a nice meal.  Here we're taking a break and Gabrielle was doing Mad Libs with Charlie.  

Before Christmas, Gabrielle bathed the McFluffers and dressed them in their finest holiday sweaters.  Too funny.

We had a lovely brunch with coffee, hot cocoa, mimosas, spiral ham, quiches, quick breads, nuts, fruits, veggies, Christmas cookies, and more.  It was lovely to see the brand new white candles burning in the Advent wreath.

The girls' big gift from Mom & Dad this year was tickets to see the Houston Ballet perform The Nutcracker.  None of them had been to a professional ballet before, and they (mostly - I ended up regretting not just getting Serafina a toy) were *SO* excited!

A group gift of Calvin & Hobbes.  Total win.  

During one of our gift opening breaks, we busted open the British Christmas Crackers which contain a joke, a piece of trivia, and charades.  This is so much fun, and here, Joe is acting out a charade while Felicity laughs.  

Later in the afternoon, after this pregnant mama took a nap and kids had time to enjoy some of their new gifts, we headed over to my inlaw's house to meet up with Charlie's sister and her family, and his parents.  The kids got to play outside with their new giant Jenga set!

Felicity and Nana dancing....we had way too much fun and there was so much grace present!

The day after Christmas, the girls and I went downtown to watch The Nutcracker.

Here are my lovelies after the show with the Sugar Plumb Fairy!

Two days after Christmas, Charlie and I gifted ourselves with a little weekend away together.  We stayed at a wonderful resort hotel, ate delicious food, went shopping, and he spoiled me with a spa treatment.  

Once we got home from our adventure sans children, Charlie was able to join some friends at the Texas vs. Arkansas Texas Bowl game.  

One of the amazingly generous gifts we received this Christmas was a membership to the Houston Children's Museum from dear friends.  

Charlie and I decided to try it out with the kids while he had some time off of work, we had a great time with our children, but it was SO crowded!  I'll be glad when I can take the kids one of these days while everyone else is in school.  haha  It was so neat!  After our museum adventure, we were able to meet up with friends for an early dinner and impromptu family game night.  

Inspired by Jessica at Shower of Roses, I gifted the girls with our first family jigsaw puzzle.  It took us a few days to work it out, but I was really surprised by how fun it was to sit with a cup of coffee, my husband, and my children and enjoy the process!

Some of our friends hosted a wonderful New Year's Eve party that was a total blast.  Obviously, Felicity had fun.

It was a great way to ring in the new year!  That said, I did wear heels and stand all night - on January 2nd, I had to spend like 45 minutes massaging the swollen pregnant lady ankles.  No more swelling since then, I'm happy to report.  (Which is a small miracle at 30.5 weeks, if you knew me at all during my earlier pregnancies!)

My beloved and me on New Year's Eve.  

 We have taken full advantage of the Christmas season, it was such a true feast!  Tomorrow all the trimmings come down (except the Christmas cards, because I love seeing the smiling faces of people I love, so I think I'll leave those until the end of Christmastide, February 2), and I'll probably actually begin to actually think about the new year ahead...

Happy Epiphany, friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014 at His Will, My Peace

Merry Christmas, my dear friends and readers!
As 2014 comes to an end, I have sorted through my Instagram photos and chosen some of my favorites to remember this year.  I realized that it's been a huge year for our family and I can't wait to see what happens in 2015!
I'm linking up with Dwija at House Unseen for 12 in 2014 (though, for a couple of months I just could not pick for me it's more like 15 in 2014, forgive me?).


This is my parents and me when they visited for my 31st birthday!


Beautiful weather led to many evenings on the porch chatting together.  I think this was Charlie's birthday.
(Here's my favorite post from February: No Guilt Workouts)


I love this photo of Gabrielle and her friend at the top of the ferris wheel at the Houston Rodeo.
(My favorite post from March was all about one of my favorite subjects to nerd-out on, Classical Music: Beethoven Doesn't Give a Damn*: Classical Music is for All of Us)


April was Felicity's birthday, Easter, and the occasion of Gabrielle and Colette's First Holy Communion!  What a blessed time for our family! (It was hard to pick one photo here!)
(Here's my post on First Communion Day, with some of the professional pictures and of course the beautiful cake - I'll have to get another one for this Easter's inevitable Baptism!)


Early May brought my first Triathlon - a huge success and a milestone in my life.  I'm dying to do more in 2015!
(My favorite post of May: I Knew the Sound of His Voice)


In June, we went to the River.  And it was awesome.

(My favorite post of June was in honor of my dad on Father's Day: The Greatest Gift of All)


Catholic Kid's Camp at our beloved parish was certainly a highlight of the summer.  We made so many new friends and loved getting to hang around church every day for a week!


Fun in San Antonio at the Hyatt Resort.  We spent many hours here as a family and with friends!


I love this photo of my Fina.  She's so sweet, we had a great time at the beach in Corpus Christi while the big girls were at The Pines.

(And here's a post where I was holding the secret of my new pregnancy, but hadn't shared yet, and was feeling quite overwhelmed.  Re-reading it renews the sense of peace that was gifted me from the Gospels that day...)


We began our 6th year of homeschool!


At 19 weeks pregnant, we found out that I am carrying around another precious little girl, to make her debut in March (I hope.)!

(My favorite posts of October were Rising to God - where I got a little nervous about exposing so much of my heart, and my rant against the word "Busy."


Gab just wanted to go fishing for her 9th birthday, so we borrowed a beach house and made that wish come true.

Sweet Joe turned 3 on Thanksgiving day.  The epitome of a boy-child.


Two of my beautiful sisters and me when they came to my early-December baby shower!

Happy New Year!