Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Season May Still Have a Reason!

I am just as guilty as the next person of getting caught up the all of the craziness of the season. We don't usually go overboard with the cost of gifts, but we do try to give something to most everyone we know.

We also try to do enough baking that could, honestly, feed lots of hungry people.

Add to that the special moments I've tried to "create" (aka as contrive) over the years, the perfect Christmas card picture, the 400 Christmas cards I try to mail out, the traditions I try to instill, and I end up one stressed out mom who is not much fun to be around.

This year is different. Perhaps it's the fact that the economy is slow and more of us are trying to conserve that which we have. Perhaps I'm finally realizing that I really don't have to run myself into the ground. Perhaps I have really, truly, and honestly found the real reason for the season.

I have always known the reason, and I've always talked about how we should always remember the reason, but what I did was contrary to what I was saying. My heart is in a different place this year.

Just like everyone else I know, we have cut back quite a bit this year. We've been moving in this direction for a few years now and this is the year that we finally have made Christmas more about what it is and less about ourselves.

I know that there are many people suffering this Christmas season, and for those people I pray that times get better and life gets easier, but for those of us who have not gone without very often, if ever, I pray that this year, we embrace the true meaning of Christmas, and that we hold onto it the whole year through.

In an effort to really be family-centered for the remainder of the Advent season and the Christmas season, I am restricting my computer time to only that which is necessary. I will not be blogging until 2009. I will be snuggling with the kids and finishing up our home made projects. We will be worshiping Christ and thanking Him for His gift to us. We will be reflecting on our baptismal call and what that means to us as a family.

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Houston We Have Snow!

We don't typically see this on our desktops...

It was a night of fun watching the kids reacting to real snow falling in Houston. By this morning it was gone, but for just a brief few hours, we had an early Christmas complete with white stuff!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2nd Week of Advent

It seems that the season of Advent hardly gets it's due. I know that I try in my heart of hearts to celebrate the season through a few small traditions in our home that can easily be forgotten with the business of the day.

I am so thankful that my children will remind me to stop and light the candle on the Advent wreath or that we will be mindful of taking the time to attend Mass on the feast days that make this period of waiting more beautiful.

I pray that you are each enjoying this small time of waiting before the Christ child comes to us on Christmas morn.

The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us,
but that we will finally hear God.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The newest Fishism

Today, Mark was reviewing some of Fish's religion lesson and was asking him if he remembered where Jesus went to pray before he was crucified.

Fish responded, "He went to Olive Garden to pray, Daddy!"

I wonder if he got breadsticks while He was there...

Friday, November 14, 2008

I have been feeling quite unsuccessful lately, in many areas, running, work, mothering, homeschooling, my faith life, etc. In fact, I actually uttered the words, "I think I am just going to quit running until after the holidays" last night. Then a "friend" shared this with me. It is from Magnificat and she read it during adoration last night...

"When we see our efforts are unsuccessful, let us throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus. Groaning over the world's iniquity, let us beg his divine heart to lay bare his infinite treasures of mercy. Then let us return again to our work, without giving in to exhaustion. Hardships must never discourage the spouse of Christ; rather, they should make her stronger and more determined. Do not be dismayed by rejection and mockery. Go forward always, with the serenity and fortitude of angels, because you are the angels of the earth and so must continue on your way in the midst of so many contrary influences. Everyone can be serene when things run smoothly; it is in difficult situations that fidelity and constancy are proven."
- Mother Cabrini

It is now blown up, placed on my mirror, and being studied by me. I swear, I need some new friends... LOL

I thank God for my friends. He always uses them in the most wonderful ways!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prayer of St. Therese

This prayer brought me to my knees on Sunday night. Gomer, our youth minister, shared it with us and about 250 teens at LifeNight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day Out With Thomas

For Boo's 3rd Birthday, we celebrated with a trip to Rusk State Park and the Texas State Railroad.

Thomas was there complete with all the trimmings. The weather was perfect, there was plenty of shopping, and priceless memories were made.

How do you choose just ONE train??!!

This is Boo's reaction to seeing the full-sized Thomas pulling into the station.

This was everyone's first ride on a real train, including Mark and I. It was lots of fun and we plan to go back with the Polar Express comes into town!

Boo was getting a bit sleepy...

Boo could have spent weeks at these train tables! Needless to say, each child that had to be extracted from these tables left the same way... kicking and screaming!

Lem had fun even though she and Foo were probably the oldest kids there...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boo is 3!!!!!!!!

I can't believe he is already 3! It doesn't seem possible that he could be that old already.

We will be celebrating tomorrow with a trip to see Thomas the Tank!

Happy Birthday, Boo! You are loved so very much!

Homecoming 2008

It's hard to believe a few short months from now, we will be watching Bean go off to school and onto a new phase of life. I pray she is always this joyful.

What a great bunch of kids!

Poor Trev had shingles, but still looks like he was having fun!

So far behind

I don't know how I can catch up on posts when I am this far behind. The best I can do is give you a smathering of photos.

We had a good time on our trip to Colorado. It was a bit scary when Mark had to go to the emergency room. He developed HAPE as a result of being at 11,000 feet. Next time we head to the hills, we will be sure to stay a few days at lower elevation and work our way up. It was too beautiful to say we'd not go back. Aside from the altitude sickness and HAPE, it was a wonderful, beautiful place to be and once the medical bills disappear, I am sure we will have many memories to treasure!! LOL

I bet if I had turned off his oxygen, he wouldn't have beat us at pool!

Fish at Garden of the Gods.

A view the Katharine Lee Bates might have enjoyed!

One thing I hope I never forget, the Quaking Aspen! They were so incredibly beautiful! They reminded me of Birch Trees, only more vibrant. These trees alone call my soul back to Colorado.

Lem at Lake Dillon. Can you imagine playing at this park everyday??

Boo on the playset.

Even the big kids couldn't resist the playing!!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Post - Ike Report

A bit overdue for those of you who don't read my other blog. We did make it through the storm minus a few trees and some fencing, but overall, we were fine. So many others are not and will not be for quite some time.

Our tree barely missed out neighbor's home.

Our fence was downed by a tree. It was nice to finally meet this neighbor! Unfortunately, he had just finished building his daughter's play structure the weekend before Ike. Now it is crushed.

We made the best of things while the power was out. Lem and I began to live in the Pioneer Spirit as we hand-washed and hung dry our clothes. Mark wasn't too impressed, but I was so proud! Lem and I were so excited to fold the clothes that we loving washed with our hands and dried in the beautiful, bright sunlight.

Note the tree in the background!

I do admit that I loved being outside so much. God blessed us with some wonderful weather, that which we don't see too often in Houston, especially in September. We were able to sleep with the windows open, and if it weren't for the obnoxious sounds of the generators in the background, we might have even slept!

The kids played outside with the neighbor's kids. All the neighbors were outside enjoying the weather and sharing information on where to get ice, gas, etc. It was reminiscent of 5 years ago when our neighborhood was always like this. I miss those days and I don't know why it took Ike to make me realize that we don't do this anymore.

Boo and Princess Carmen

Kid being kids!

We were very fortunate to get our power on quickly. It was on by late Tuesday afternoon. I had just finished my run when I heard the kids screaming, "HEY THE PORCH LIGHTS JUST CAME ON!!!" They ran into the house, turned all the lights on, and then ran back outside screaming.... "LET'S GET BACK AND FINISH OUR GAME!"

Shortly after the lights came on, we had to start to get ready for our vacation to Colorado. I'll post more pictures from our trip later.

The neighborhood worked together to rake the debris into piles which were just this week picked up. I imagine it will take some time to get all of the debris collected from our town.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hello Ike!

It looks like we may be getting a bit of rain and wind in the next 24 hours or so. Please keep the Texas Gulf Coast in your prayers. This is a pretty serious storm, one the likes that I have yet to "weather" since moving to Houston 20 years ago. Alicia hit 25 years ago, and I was still a Yankee.

I don't normally get worried about storms, rather, I try to enjoy them, but the idea of winds hitting 85 - 110 miles an hour is a tad unnerving. Exactly how does one secure a trampoline anyway?

I expect we will lose power for a few days if not more. If that is the case, we will probably head out on our family retreat a few days early. We are scheduled to head to Colorado next Friday. We may get a bit of a head start on that!

I pray that all of my friends are safe and that the only damage that happens is directed at the abortion facilities (just the building, not the people) in Houston, especially the largest one that is currently being "renovated".

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hey Barack...




Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy "Labor" Day!

Seven years ago this day, I was in truly in Labor, bringing forth this sweet little face!

Time flies! Especially when you're a fish!

Happy Birthday my sweet little Fish! We love you so much! Your ability to make us laugh with your faces, dance moves, and impressions is amazing. We call you our Drama Boy! One day, that skill will serve you well!

Here is Fish enjoying some of his birthday spoils! Foo is "helping" him build the new space ship!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Way to go, John!

I'll be the first to admit, I wasn't a big fan on John McCain, would have preferred Huckabee, but the cards fell where they did and Mr. McCain won the pick for the GOP ticket.

I've watched the Dem Convention with a watchful eye and a pit in my stomach. I didn't appreciate the rock and roll fanfare that the Dem's attempted to pass off as a political event, especially with the historic importance that last night held for us as a country.

I hate being talked-down to, I despise receiving information in a watered-down fashion, and that is exactly what the Dems delivered. Give me a break. What scares me is the many, many voters in this country that will vote for Obama because of his "cool" factor.

I went to bed praying that McCain would pick the right person, and hopefully, that it wouldn't be Romney. He certainly came through today!

Sarah Palin is a fantastic choice.

Here is a true woman! Mom to 5 beautiful children. A working mom working in a man's world. Not afraid to stand up for what is right, especially for the unborn. My definition of a true woman, the kind of woman that makes "feminists" cringe.

And Obama's first official response?

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same."

Are you kidding me? NObama had the chance to show us he was all about change and he chose the same ol' same ol'. Biden is about as same ol' as any politician can be.

And trying to scare us with the "heartbeat away from the presidency" garbage? How about Nobama's one vote away from the presidency? How is it that his inexperience is a good thing because it is an opportunity for change, but hers is a liability?

Was this a political move on McCain's part? Of course it was. Just as choosing Biden was on Obama's. It was a very smart one. A well-thought out one.

I am finally excited about this election and even more excited to cast my vote in November.

What would have Barack's mom have done?

If Roe v Wade had already been passed, what would his mother have chosen to do? A single mom, in the 60's, no dad in sight, pregnant with a bi-racial child?

Would we have celebrated his nomination as the first official Afro-American presidential candidate last night, or would he have been another unheard soul sacrificed in the name of a woman's right to choose?

I'm just wondering...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School's In!

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get it all done in time, but with a little perseverance, I did get the school stuff together, the bookshelves organized and cleaned, and ready to go for a Monday morning start!

The day went smooth, with the exception of one broken cabinet door. Poor Boo! He opened the door and pushed it a bit to far... SNAP! Our beautiful custom door... broken. The expression on his face was priceless! I'm not sure if he was thinking... "Uh, oh... I'm in BIG trouble" or "What the heck kind of door was that?!!"

No worries, with some snazzy fix-anything type of glue, Mark had it put back together in no time. We'll see if it holds up.

This is a big year in our house. Bean is a senior, complete with all of the anxieties of college=hunting. She'll also be getting her driver's license soon. I don't know if I can take all of this growing up at once!

Fish is making his First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion this year. He'll be 7 in a week! I swear he grew 3 or 4 inches over night.

We are readying for our family retreat in a few weeks. I am looking forward to some restful down time with the kids and Mark. I have a pretty hectic fall schedule shaping up, mostly because of running, this time of quiet reflection is just what my body and soul need right now.

Adjusting myself and the family to my new role as mom, homeschooler, business owner, and working mom, has not been easy. I get frustrated easily when I see things not running as smoothly as I think they should. Mark and the kids are amazing. They help out so much and have such high levels of patience that I am embarrassed at how silly my frustrations really are.

I suffer from lots of Mommy-guilt, inflicted all on my own. Between the busy-ness of the day and my running, I often find myself falling short of my own glory.

Then I hear a little voice... Boo's voice... "Mommy, seat down, seat down!" I told Mark it is though I hear the voice of God speaking to me in that moment. He is trying to tell me to slow down, enjoy the moment. Let the other things wait. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. And when I can't it haunts me. When I can, I feel total peace. Almost like when sitting before the blessed sacrament.

Boo doesn't want anything other than for me to sit with him. To watch Blue's Clue's or Oswald with him. To hold him. How could I ever pass that up? I remember doing this with all of the kids. And not many of them want me to hold them quite that way anymore, though they still want me to be with them. The time has passed so quickly. And I know it will continue to do so. I see why people long for grandchildren. So that they can embrace these precious, God-given moments with those we love.

I usually try to have goals such as building a better prayer life, attending Mass during the week, reading more spiritual things, etc. While these are wonderful things and I believe very important, I believe right now, God is calling me to live in the moment. Enjoy the blessings that surround me. Truly enjoy them. Drink them in. Understand that this is all from Him. Sometimes I need big reminders, and sometimes they come in gentle little 2 year old voices...

"Mommy, seat down, seat down!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Long Over Due Pictorial

The kids are growing so fast this summer, and I've hardly had a moment to sit back and chronicle the days. I had big plans to get some things organized around the house, and while we did tackle the garage (which was 15 years in the making), I haven't quite completed my master closet (another 15 years in the making).

Why we tend to hold onto stuff, I'll never understand. My new motto, if it isn't blessing our life, then it needs to go bless someone else.

I let my dining room table that I have loved for over 20 years go this month. My neighbor didn't have one and I had mine in the garage since November. It made me cry to think it wasn't blessing someone else, but I could not find anyone who wanted it. It was in beautiful condition, and I know it will bring enjoyment to the new owners.

Here is a small sampling of some of what the kids have been up to. Unfortunately, I haven't taken many pictures.

In June, the big highlights were my nephew, Seb, coming to visit

and Bean turning 17...

Three of my favorite guys in the world were at the party, Foo, Uncle Ryan, and Uncle Deo.

Fish decided that perhaps modeling is in his future...

Boo enjoyed his cake and ice cream...

And lest you think his palate is not being properly groomed...

Our sweet little 2nd degree black belt agreed to try something a bit girlie this week. She is enrolled in a friend's ballet camp this week and is going to be in a small production of Peter and the Wolf. Ok, she's still a tomboy at heart, she was cast in the role of Peter...

Hopefully, I'll have more picture to share later. I need to remember to bring the camera!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This Face

What a cute little guy! Hans is doing well, but as always needs our continued prayers. I had to post one of his latest photos because he is just so beautiful!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Comforting Words

One of my current favorite Christian Artists is Aaron Shust. His music,and especially his lyrics, really move me.

I was running this morning and played his album. These words, ones I've heard many times before, really touched me today.

I was lost and I was blind
I was begging for a sign
that someone
Somewhere heard me

As You whispered in the wind
And You shouted in the waves
That You heard me
That You loved me
And I could finally
Stop resisting

You’re Everything I ever wanted
And never knew I needed

You’re Everywhere I ever go

I can’t hide from Your Love anymore

I begin to drop my guard
Faithful as the Morning Star
You show me tender mercy

I’m surrounded by Your beauty
I get lost in Heaven’s

It never changes
Never ending
Why would I want to?
I don’t want to.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Strength of a Mother

Today was a day that a precious life was celebrated. Hayden O'Brien, just 17 years of age, has left his earthly life and gone on to his eternal one.

The funeral Mass was so beautiful. It was held at the family's parish, St. Mary's. The church is an old country church, originally erected by German immigrants. The inside of the church was so wonderful to see. Special paintings and stencilings throughout the church have been carefully restored to capture the devotion and love of the people who built this church.

The church is very small and might hold 150 - 200 people. There had to be 3 times that many that attended the funeral. Most of us stayed outside for the Mass, some had seats but many of us stood among the Marian gardens that adorned the parish grounds.

It was hot. It was humid. But God provided enough shade and just a slight breeze that made it possible for us to feel comfortable. He is always so good to us.

When I heard of Hayden's death, I found myself asking, "Why?" Why, if God can do anything, why would He let this unspeakable tragedy happen? Why does He let any child, any person suffer? Why does He take babies from their mothers? Mothers and fathers from their young children? Why can't we understand?

I attended the Mass partly looking for an answer perhaps, to some of these questions. I know that there isn't one. I know that we can not possibly understand all of God's plan. And then came Father's homily.

During the eulogy, Father noted that the end of our life on earth is not the end of our life. Our life has changed. We move from our earthly life to our eternal one. Sometimes this happens before we are ready for it to and we feel that we still have so much to say to them, so much to ask them.

After pondering this for awhile, something hit me. If our lives do not end, they merely change, then our relationship with those who die doesn't end; it also changes. It goes from a relationship of the human form to a relationship of the spirit. I suppose it would be similar to when I carried each of my children. I couldn't really speak to them or touch them, though I could feel them moving inside of me. But I could pray with them. I could speak through my heart, without words or even with words, directly to them. There were no interruptions when I spoke with them then. Just as there are now no interruptions when I speak with my mom now. There are no voicemails left for her to answer. I just call on her, I feel her presence, and I begin to share with her in our changed relationship.

I don't ever wish the death of a loved one upon another, because in our humanity, we yearn for a person's touch, their scent, their smile to fill our days, I do find great comfort in this reflection. Life does not end, it changes. Relationships do not end, they change.

After the funeral Mass, Hayden's casket was carried out by several Boy Scouts. It was a very moving scene to witness. They placed his beautiful casket, with images of the twelve apostles at the last supper and the Pieta adorning it, onto a hand-drawn cart which was pulled by the Scouts to the cemetery. We followed behind as we said our final goodbyes to this wonderful young man.

A home-schooled boy. He touched so many lives. I attended the Mass with some home-schooling friends, as this is how we came to know Hayden and his family. As I turned around, I saw a former neighbor that had moved 40 miles away more than 10 years ago and discovered that they knew him through Scouting. Inside the fellowship hall, I saw a running friend whom also knew him through Scouting. Hayden touched many lives. Many that he probably never knew he touched.

As we stood listening to Mass, I overheard some of the folks from the hospital where Hayden's dad works comment that they had grown up Catholic but hadn't been to Church in years, especially not a Catholic one. I witnessed them fall into the comforting traditions that accompany us at each and every Mass, from the sign of the Cross, the the sign of Peace, to the reception of Communion. I saw others who obviously had a very hard time being in any church, and put their feelings aside to be there for their friend during his time of grief.

Afterwards, I had an opportunity to speak with Hayden's mother and she was glowing. While I realize that she hasn't even begun to process what has happened just yet, her faith is amazing. She is trusting in God's plan and though I went to offer my support to her and her family, I found that I am the one that received that support through her faith.

She is an amazing woman and she has the strength of a mother. A very special mother, similar to that of the Blessed Mother. She was comforting those who had come to comfort her. She was mothering those that were coming to mother her.

She spoke of her son with such pride and admiration. I fell in love with him through her, the way that we come to know Christ through His Mother.

I ask you to continue to keep the O'Brien family in your daily prayers as they move through their grief and sorrow.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Trusting in His plan and His mercy!

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense. Why do things happen as they do? This weekend, a truly wonderful family in our homeschooling group lost their eldest son in a drowning accident.

I can't imagine the pain that they are suffering, but I know that God knows this pain. He lost His Son too.

Please pray that this family feels the comfort of our prayers for them. And may Hayden be resting at the feet of Jesus in eternal bliss!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random Boo-ness

There are so many things that Boo says and does that I hope I never forget, but as history has proven, I know I will.

So in no special order, I will jot down random items of note. Maybe if I was better about blogging, I'd have a better record of these things.

Nose again!

please ignore the awful picture of me and only gaze over the adorable two-year old on my lap!

(Boo gets frequent bloody noses and they used to freak him out. Mark helps to stop the bloody nose with a tp torpedo that is placed in the nostril to absorb the blood. Sounds weird. Looks even weirder! But one time Boo caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and started cracking up! Now, when ever he gets a bloody nose, instead of crying and screaming, he starts laughing and announces, "Nose Again!" and proceeds to get some tp for daddy.


Boo knows all of his letters and numbers by sight and in order when recited. I don't know how or why he happens to have this information, but it is adorable to be at the pool and have him get out, run to the "No Diving" sign and spell it out. The lifeguards are in awe, as am I. He says them all properly with the exception of one letter, "W". He pronounces it "Ba-Doo-doo". I know he'll need to out grow this, but it is so sweet to hear him say that...

When trying to put him to bed, we have to turn around all of the clocks in the room because he reads the numbers of the digital clocks. He'll announce the time over and over again until the time changes and then he'll start all over again. Often he will announce the time backwards. For instance, if it is 9:05, he will say, "5-0-9". So, being the dyslexia freak that I am, I will insist that he say it properly. Instead he argues with me telling me that it is indeed "5-0-9!" I will continue to say, "No, it's 9:05", and then I'll hear, "No, mommy, it's 9:06!" Smarty pants!

The other thing he does with letters and numbers is that he turns them around to make other letters. For instance, "M" becomes "W"; "A" becomes "V". An "E" can become a "3", a "p" can become a "b" or a "q" or a "9". Now this might not be a big deal for most people, but when I recall that he is only 2 years old, it really blows my mind.

One day, Boo and Fish were doing a letter puzzle. Fish announced that Boo knew his letters better than he did! Fish is 6. I am sure this was the catalyst to his sudden interest in learning to read.

I think Boo is considering potty-training. Often he will announce, "PANTS!" when he needs to be changed.

His newest passion is to have his ears cleaned as he is falling asleep. He gets nice and comfy and then as I begin to clean his ears, he drops off to a deep sleep and is out for the night.

Well, since he is currently attempting to hijack the keyboard, I am going to sign off for now.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Campaign of Gratitdue

I was sent this today and felt it was important enough to put on the blog. I don't know how widespread this small act of gratitude is, but I pray it will be an accepted standard as a show of gratitude to our men and women in service.

Please visit the CAMPAIGN OF GRATITUDE website today to learn more.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bean!

Another year has come and gone and I am starting to feel that bittersweet feeling of watching my daughter grow into a young woman who will be leaving our nest sooner rather than later.

This is what we, as parents, strive for. To raise godly children that desire to go out into the world to serve Him, to serve others, and to be an asset to society.

Bean is all of this and I couldn't be any prouder of her than I am this day.

Happy Birthday my sweet little Bean!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please Pray

I am an avid Christian music fan and one of my family's favorite artists has suffered an unspeakable tragedy. Please pray for Steven Curtis Chapman and his entire family.

You can read about the loss of his five-year old daughter, Maria on his blog.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The ABCs- Boo Style

Here is Boo giving a lesson in the ABCs

If you can listen closely, the older children begin quizzing him on other letters using their fingers. See if you can pick up how he says the sound for /W/.

It was Daddy's birthday that we were celebrating!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy 13th Birthday!

It seems like just yesterday that we were snuggling on the couch reading books about Pooh and watching sweet videos of Little Bear. Now he's taller than me, makes me (and his little brothers) feel safe and well-taken care of.

Love you, Foo! Happy, happy birthday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One of my inspirations

Our First Information Night!

Thank you to Homewood Christian Association for allowing us to have a table for The Woodlands Learning Center at their information night last night.

We had a wonderful time meeting many people, most of them homeschoolers or homeschoolers-to-be.

Lazy day with the ducks