Monday, May 24, 2010

Nerdy? I don't even think this BEGINS to cover the amount of nerdiness I have in my pinky

So I've given things some thought. I am really focused on moving between past events to get caught up {PROMISE!} and what's going on in our lives right now. The initial idea was to alternate between old and new, not two new, four old posts, etc.

HOWEVER, my excitement for my newest project is really spilling into all areas of the house.

I'll admit it. My nesting is in full-blown mode right now. The problem {ok, so not really a problem} with being preggies with #5 is that we have almost everything we need for bebe. Well, we need to re-buy a swing and a few onesies, but honestly we have everything we need. So my nesting this pregnancy has morphed into a different beast, animal, paranoia, project, etc. With our upcoming homeschooling venture scheduled to start in the next few weeks, my nesting mode has been put to good use. Projects that I would normally just stare at and watch collect dust have been tackled.

My latest project was to find a way to incorporate the homeschooling into our dining room setup. Some might call it the neglected step child room of the house. Part of the problem has been that we could not agree which direction we wanted to go with the dining room...and the gorgeous dining set that my in-laws drove down from Virginia has been discontinued, making it impossible to finding the matching pieces.

I'm not a designer. We should be clear about that much. I can fake it 'til I make it and I can definitely give it 110%, but as a rule I can't look at a room and see "the big picture".

Let me back up a minute so I can make some sense of how I got where I am now.

I found a 2x4 expedit bookcase back in December when the college students were all too happy to unload their four-month-old furniture on the lowest bidder. That was how I got this happy number. {ours is white with a birch colored desk off the side} It has a wonderful desk that jets out. It went straight to the playroom to hang out with its other expedit relatives.

I honestly thought that was all we would need. And then I realized I needed some sort of organization system for my own teaching materials.

Back to the dining room. I had not intended on buying more expedits, but cost wise, this made the most sense. To say I did an extensive google search on how to decorate, organize and design using expedits would be the understatement of the week or month. I perused IKEA just for ideas, picking up a few things here and there and spending time staring at the 4x4 expedit - black/brown - and rearranging the baskets they had to see how it would look aesthetically. I also took measurements and came back home. It was decided.

A 5x5 would be too tall and top heavy. One 4x4 would be too tiny for the long wall in the dining room. In the end, we would need two 4x4 expedit bookcases to really make use of the entire wall. I didn't focus on the fact that I would also need lots of cute things to fill up the remaining squares once all the homeschooling stuff had been properly organized.

We were able to knock out the two bookcases in a couple of hours, total time.

Neil has pretty strong opinions about IKEA and the quality of their furniture. I think the words 'cheap IKEA crap' flew out a couple of times. I mean, by comparison to the other furniture in the dining room, it's definitely a bit out of it's element; but, I was convinced that all it needed was some dressing up, so to speak, with some cute chotchkies and whatnots.

And, I must say, minus the remaining nine empty squares left to be filled, I am pleased with the final product. It is by no means "perfect" but it works for me and considering where this room was just over a week ago, I'd say it's easily heads and shoulders above where it used to be.

That said, I am open to all kinds of ideas and suggestions. If you have any tips on how to improve the design or flow of how it looks, I want to hear it! I like the decorating above the bookcases, but not absolutely 100% sold. Send me your thoughts!

Shall we get started with the visual tour?

{My sewing table that used to hold all my notions - it now holds coasters, napkin rings and place mats - below are my trunks that hold fabric and pellon}
{and to our left we have the opposite wall - a trip to Hobby Lobby and Tuesday Morning resulted in some chachkie purchases that are helping shape the dining room into a more "acceptable to me" look - I also grabbed a lot of knick knacks from around the house and gave them new homes}
{TADA!! Are you impressed? Let's go through the details, but to start this wall was long enough to hold two 4x4 expedit bookcases from IKEA}
{So...onto the decorating aspect - I took the monster wall art down from above the piano and added it to the top to give the wall a bit more height since the bookcases are pretty short. I added some personal touches from around the house, including some pictures of the kids and various knick knacks that needed a different home}
{a picture of Drew's pirate face - he *thinks* he's winking at us and a picture of Paige from her 5th birthday}
{on the floor in the back right is my basket of fabric I used to use once upon a time when I made tote bags - they're really just for show these days}
{This is somewhat hidden - something I was shooting for - to hide all the supplies. If I ever care enough, I can always take out the supplies and put in some perty flowers to spruce up the wall.}
{I got these from IKEA* - my SIL has the same set up for her kiddos. I liked the idea of the supplies being in a place of easy access, but also didn't look like a traditional classroom setup, which makes this solution perfect}

*If you like this setup, click HERE and HERE for pricing and purchase - I also bought THIS and THIS; they are not shown because it'll be put in the laundry room where I also plan to store 'teacher' things.

{OK, any supplies on the shelves have their own basket and are labeled both on the basket as well as...}
{the shelves - this is mainly so the kids know exactly where things go}
{all school books and grab and go supplies go in individual baskets - the basket is not labeled but...}
{...the cubby is - I put this one on the side because I figure long term it'll stick better there than on the bottom where it would get rubbed off}
{MOMMA!!! TAKE A PICTURE OF DREWBIE!! - ok, let's pause for a picture of Drew that he repeatedly insisted that I take}
{more shelves with various setups - this is mostly my collection of Catholic books, resources, stories, etc. I seriously thought I had more but I guess this is it. I better start working on beefing up this collection!}
{paper is stored with easy access on the bottom shelf}
{construction, plain white and colored paper}
{more organizing labels - if you are a label junkie, I know I got your number with *this* post ;)}
{After years of hanging out on the top shelf of our built ins in the living room, I moved our wedding album to one of the cubbies along with our cake topper - the pottery holding the keys is from an online friend who I met a couple of years ago. I picked two pieces and whenever I see them, I think of her. If you like her stuff, visit her Etsy store to buy and support a Catholic sista!}
{I broke out the yearbooks - I figured here was better than stuffed in some cabinet}
{Can you spot the other piece of pottery I bought from my friend, Donna? Or the picture of my beautiful niece and her sweet baby sister, Sophie? These shelves are filled with various baskets, supplies, books and Bibles - don't judge! I have more Bibles, but didn't want them ALL in the same place! I need to be able to bust one out near my bed and one is in the car. You can never have too many Bibles, in my opinion. :)}

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Introducing Captain Jack Sparrow - and yes, he can haz da cheezburger

Since Templeton's death, we have had a hard time talking about, much less deciding and agreeing upon getting a new pet. The struggle of losing our old man was difficult, but part of the void, we all felt, could be filled by loving a new pet. I hadn't really given grief much thought before {and yes, I realize when you get right down it and put in perspective, it was *just* a cat}, but it seemed to me that my particular grief for Templeton boiled down to two parts. One was that he couldn't be replaced. Getting a new pet wasn't going to bring back that special bond and love we had for him. The second part was that as long as we recognized the first part, it was somewhat necessary to the healing process for ourselves, as well as the kids, to bring in a new pet who we could transition that kind of love back into our lives.

Cats aren't like least, Templeton wasn't. He was a quiet man, speaking only when necessary, tripping you down the stairs all other times, lol. So, when he died, there weren't many times I really felt his presence being gone other than just catching something dark out of the corner of my eye and realizing it wasn't him, or missing his cold wet nose kisses on my feet while I typed away at the computer in the office or the jingling of his collar.

After perusing the Humane Society's website, then eventually landing on Craigslist in the pet section, we found someone who had many, MANY kittens to choose from. This lady was quite a haul from where we live and Neil just happened to be in the area so he stopped by between appointments and helped pick out a kitten. To be honest, of the seven contenders {five gray and white tabbies and two black and silver tabbies - all males}, I probably would have picked the same one we both decided on.

And that is how we ended up with this little fella. He's seven weeks old and cute as can be. He's a total lap cat, a purr box, a talker and a little ball of fun. He is on a current "buddy" system in the house until he is {translation: we are} comfortable being on his own in the house. He eats, sleeps and does his 'bidness' in our spare bathroom and then gets to come out with our designated buddies - me, Neil, Ashley, Jonathan or Paige in any of the rooms in the house, provided he is watched. When he's not watched he goes back into the bathroom to eat, sleep and do his 'bidness'. And it doesn't take a lot for him to get all tuckered out too. All the kids find him to be absolutely adorable and he seems to be quite a good fit for our family. Oh, and he has a few words for all you lookie loos. :)


December 15, 2009

I remember clearly that this week was IN-SANE-ly busy. I think we were still in the middle of the playscape construction, Neil's birthday was the next day so I was busy praying for that book to be delivered overnight {as promised by Mac}, we had various meetings in the evening and that Tuesday evening, Paige's Christmas program was held at her preschool. As long as this dress fits, she will continue to wear it. I have never loved how a little dress looks on her as much as this one. She did an awesome job of singing her little heart out! Check out our little princess.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mixing the old with the new

I am thinking in order to keep things flowing a bit more smoothly, it'll be nice to alternate between the old news and the current happenin's.

So, I'm going to show you all a picture of Drew's latest new 'thang'. I give you...





the "wink" - or 'ARRGH MATEY!' - your choice, lol.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Back the mack truck up - you're having *ANOTHER* baby??

::I apologize in advance for the lengthy posts, past, present and likely future. I am going into 'documenting mode' and so it is more for me and the family than to bore everyone to tears. If you bear with me, it'll wane back into daily events that are more pic heavy.::

So some of you may have noticed the floating baby in the womb widget to the side of the blog that was added months ago, and while it may have sparked some curiosity, I did not blog about the most obvious and biggest news we are anticipating.

Yes, we are expecting a new addition!

We found out mid December and couldn't be happier. The kids had actually long since put in their request for a new sibling - *ALWAYS* refreshing to our ears to know that while they have the normal squabbles that all siblings have, they still love welcoming a new baby brother or sister to the family. I was initially concerned that Ashley's reaction might be less than welcoming, as I would have reasonably expected. I think back to myself at that age and the thought of reacting less than favorably to a new addition would not have been out of the realm of possibility for me. I also coupled that cringing feeling with the infamous story that has been told by my in-laws getting pregnant with #5 and the reaction of all the other kids. Neil was the only one to be overjoyed with the idea of welcoming a new sibling, and even offered to share his bed with the new baby. This story was particularly on my mind since I had just put Neil's birthday book together and that was the story my MIL {mother-in-law} submitted.

BUT we were pleasantly surprised that the kids were all excited!


Now, I should also to point out that our last pregnancy {with Drew} ended in the most spectacular of fashions. He decided he would have none of being plain old #4 and as a result was born in our car. I won't bore you with the details of *that* story, but you can read it by clicking here.

So, you'd better believe my first phone call come Monday morning was to the birthing center, where I joked with the midwife that yes, despite having given birth in the car the last time, we went back to that well. Fortunately, one midwife felt bad about what happened last time and that she "owed us one". We will be exploring avenues not traditionally taken for a birthing center in order to avoid a potential birthing catastrophe. It's a fun story to tell people, but honestly it is enough to jangle nerves because we are exceedingly blessed that nothing bad happened to Drew. We want to take all the necessary precautions to make sure our newest bundle will arrive in the safest possible scenario, sans EMS on standby.

So, that is how our December kicked off. We found out we were pregnant and days later we celebrated Neil's birthday, followed by Christmas and New Year's, which I plan to document soon. Soon after those holidays, I went into what I not-so-affectionally call the "mack truck phase". Those of you who are veteran mommies will totally understand what I mean. The nausea kicked in full blown about six weeks sooner than normal, as well as the fatigue. The nausea left almost as quickly as it arrived, but the fatigue has hung around like unwelcome guests and three-day-old fish. Even now, it is almost a day-by-day condition that I need to monitor carefully. The fatigue has been exacerbated by my recently diagnosed condition, hypoglycemia.

So, the challenges have been there, but I work to move past them each day and do the best with what energy I *do* have. As of today, I am 25 weeks and our due date is August 21, although I fully expect this new little one to arrive more than a week early. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day, Interrupted

What started off full of promise ended up quite unexpectedly.

We woke up to our youngest, who figured out how to get out of his bed - yes, he's 2.5, but it's called a Crib Tent and he somehow managed to figure that out and was playing with the loudest toys first thing this morning. Neil asked if I wanted to have a lazy morning and while that sounded like a nice plan, my head filled with visions of a packed church at 11:30 Mass with all the other moms an their families who *also* decided to have a lazy morning. So, we were up and ready to go at our usual time, saw all the familiar faces that make Sunday morning such a treat and I designated two kiddos to get the annual Mother's Day flower from the altar after Mass.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up all the 'fixin's' for our Mothers' Day brunch. We had planned on cheesy scrambled eggs, maple sausage and bacon, and a hearty fruit salad. The kids would have chocolate milk {a rare treat in our house} as well as OJ and coffee for me and Neil.

Nothing too out of the ordinary, right?

We get home, everyone helps unload groceries, the kiddos scamper off to change out of their church clothes {which usually translates getting back into jammies - totally ok with me!}, and Neil and I start to prep for our brunch. It's getting late, I'm starving and making the fruit salad. I started by chopping the apples, then the strawberries that I had to fight to keep out of Drew's mouth, and had moved on to the grapes when {I believe it was} Ashley says the cat is sleeping outside...and it's sprinkling. We drop what we're doing and bolt to the back door to check it out. All six of us are staring out the backdoor and Templeton is laying in what appears to be a normal position.

Only his tail is completely poofed - a sign of distress. I don't know why my pregnant self thought it was my responsibility to be the first one to go out there. Neil stayed inside with the kids while I went out and shut the door behind me. I nearly gasped. Heck, I'm pretty sure I did gasp. I immediately turned around and looked at Neil through the glass. There was no hiding my emotions from the kids. I went inside and instructed them to go upstairs to the playroom. They knew he was dead. Neil and I went outside to investigate exactly what happened. We concluded that his "breakaway" collar had somehow gotten caught in his mouth along with part of his tags. He most likely asphyxiated on his own tongue, something that makes me cringe.
His body was not cold, so this had happened sometime while we were gone to Mass. He had gone outside when we left for church - I remember commenting about his drinking from our water feature next to the front door.

Then all the what-ifs went through my head. What if we had gone to the later Mass instead, as Neil had suggested? What if we didn't stop at the store? There was no way to know *when* it happened. But that didn't seem to stop those kinds of questions from running through my head like some perpetual scrolling marquee. The reality is that this beloved and loyal pet had died from a freak accident, leaving us at a loss as to how to deal with this death. Templeton was 12 years old and picture perfect health for an 'old man' cat. I think the thought that worries me the most, is that he died by himself. For all his years of service and love to our family, we weren't even here in his final moments, moments that were no doubt filled with panic and fear. You see, Templeton and I go back a long way. I have always had a soft spot for animals, particularly our pets. No, I don't buy them health insurance or dress them up in doll clothes, but I have a special affinity the way St. Francis does towards animals. I have saved his life a couple of times and he knew that. We had a special bond that was solidified each time he squashed me flat in the middle of the night, lol. I had even given him a middle name so I could appropriately scold him. Years ago, we had another cat and they were like brothers. They both had middle names. Marley and Templeton...except I beefed up their names and called them Christopher Marley and Templeton Joseph. They knew when they were in trouble!
{never one to miss out on catching some rays cat style, Templeton *loved* to be outdoors roaming, drinking water from our water feature, harassing the birds, annoying the dogs next door, and playing with the kids}

So, instead of celebrating Mother's Day with our typical cheer and family fun time, along with our annual picture of me with the kiddos, we spent the day eating our brunch with very little conversation, stopping along the way to cry and mourn our dear pet of 12 years. We worked our way through the grief by talking to the kids and hugging them and letting them know it's ok to cry. And what would have been an afternoon spent watching movies and munching on snacks, was spent watching Neil dig a hole {no easy task in Central Texas with all the limestone} while I sat next to Templeton and recalled memories and cried a little bit here and there.

Templeton Joseph - January 11, 1998 - May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seven Things Saturday

So, I guess the best way to get back into the groove is to simply get back on the horse, right?
This was a topic that a lot of bloggers could use to avoid that writer's block - essentially, all days of the week had certain themes and depending on whether you had good material to write about or not, you could use any of these as fillers and not let go of the flow of posting.

Let's go through my week {one of the few times I will focus only on my own week} and you can decide how exciting it was. :)

Sunday: Sundays are always relaxing for us. We attend 9:30 Mass at our church. I had a lady tell me afterwards how beautiful our children are. While the kids were not bouncing off the walls, they were incredibly fidgety which always seems to lower my patience. Towards the end it truly felt like we were herding cats. Her comment was just what I needed to put things in perspective. :)

Monday: It was a typical Monday, with all the usual challenges of trying to get the motivation to start the week off right. It was my last night to help out with RCIA. Since August, I have been helping facilitate discussions for our {then} newest candidates for initiation into the Catholic Church. For the past few years, I have dipped my toes in a few different ministries at our parish to find what and where my strengths lie. I typically try to keep my interests limited to one or two evenings a night so it doesn't create an undue burden on the family life. The last class for RCIA was technically the week before, but they started a new program by Jeff Cavins called The Great Adventure, The Bible Timeline. I had just attended his all-day seminar in South Austin the weekend before and wanted to go and see how I could help out. It was an amazing turnout, and through that seminar, I will be helping to launch the 24 week course that will start in September. While my work with RCIA is at a close, I am excited to help be a part of a new program that will no doubt feed a parish hungry to learn even *more* about Scripture.

*me with Jeff Cavins - disregard the staring into the sun/weirdo expression thing I've got going on*

Tuesday: Speaking of various ministries, there are two types. There are those that that give back and those that you nurture yourself. RCIA is my 'giving back' ministry and Tuesday evenings, I spend time discussing Scripture with one of several Bible Study groups led at our church. This session we are discussing the Gospel of John as well as his letters. I am admittedly not as polished when it comes to Sacred Scripture, so about a year ago I decided to make this more of a mission in my spiritual life. I have put the past eight or nine years into studying apologetics, Church teaching and Sacred Tradition, and while the Church cycles through almost 90% of the entire Bible every three years, I had yet to give Sacred Scripture more time to fully understand my roots, so to speak. The past year has been *very* fulfilling. I have made a lot of friends and had *many* wonderful and eye-opening discussions about Scripture that have led to my desire to help with the program I mentioned above. Sure, we can all study Scripture on our own, but the difference I've found in my own experience is that I get more out of the content when there are others to discuss Scripture. They bring points of view to the table that I had not considered and challenge me to constantly look beyond the surface meaning of what God is trying to tell us. What I love about John 6, in particular, is that it is really what defines Catholicism through the description and need of the Eucharist, from the very words of Jesus, Himself.

Wednesday: It was Cinco de Mayo - a day for celebrating with good food and relaxing with my husband, sans kiddos, at our favorite restaurant just down the road from us. It was *packed*, there was live music and the food was great! Not too shabby for what would otherwise be a normal hump day.

Thursday: I was invited by a friend to go to an annual dinner to benefit the Christ Child Society, a Catholic non-profit organization geared towards helping those in most need in our society. They provide layettes for mothers who give birth and have nothing for their children. I could go on and on about what they provide, but the best way to pass that info on is for you to simply click their name above and check them out for yourself. The evening was wonderful, filled with lotsa Catholic 'sistas', catching up on all their news, making new friends, a silent auction, wine, a lovely dinner and dessert along with an extremely hilarious comedian to share in all her experiences as a wife and mother - it's funny b/c it's true was the main theme of all our laughter that evening. We could hardly catch our breath before she had uttered her next perfectly-timed joke. Let me tell you, all women should hope to be that funny at age 73!


Friday: Well, there is nothing ever really wrong with Friday. It is always welcome in my books! I took my two littles to a newly formed Mom's group at our parish where we learned to make rosaries, thanks to a friend who took the time to show us how to make knots. It was a lot of fun and we are looking forward to making even more friends as we get more involved with the group. That evening, we took the kids out for a dinner, came home and got jammies on, snuggled on our bed for evening prayers and then the adults settled into an evening of watching the Spurs...lose unfortunately. I think that's the end of their season being behind in this series 3-0, but I'll watch tomorrow evening in anticipation that they might be able to pull off an upset.

I'm not holding my breath, lol.

So, that was my week in a nutshell - a rather big nutshell. Not all my weeks are anywhere near this jam packed with things to do, so this will likely be my last Seven Things Saturday for a while. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lots of changes, lots of procrastinating, very little blogging

It's been forever and a half since I've gotten back into any kind of regular posting. For family and friends who follow us on Facebook, you are all in the know; however, I initially created this blog with the intention of sharing some daily {and not so daily} nuggets of our life. May is typically one of the busiest months of the year for us and this year is no exception. We have lots to catch you up on, so stay tuned. I am finding a way to start blogging using our new laptop {which means, I may actually get posts done more frequently - yay!}, while finding balance with all the upcoming changes to our lives.
What I hope to blog about in the near future:
*bring you up to speed with past events
*talk about our upcoming arrival of #5
*share our new adventures in homeschooling {beginning mid-June}
*etc. and so forth. :)