Friday, March 30, 2012

New Kids' Room!!!

I'll just let these photos speak for themselves. I could go on and on about how much I love their new room, and how happy I am that we made this switch, but I'm sure nobody wants to read a post just filled with sideways smileys and exclamation points!  :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mud Angels


Two more photos for your viewing pleasure! :) I was starting to worry that my other children would feel left out, what with the overload of Austin pics I've been posting, and I love these two that I took of Meghan and Kristen on Sunday afternoon! (The weather here has been just gorgeous, too pretty to stay inside!) Jill, I don't currently have a phone on which to take cool pics, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying playing with different techniques in Photoshop! :) 

*About the phone: when we lost our old one, we took the opportunity to release ourselves from my brother's family plan, since there is a good chance he will be moving to the other side of the country this summer. But now that we've been without it for a while, we can't decide if we actually want to replace it with a plan of our own! It feels so bold and daring to find myself out and about without that tether, lol! (But a little scary, too.  What if my van broke down or wouldn't start again, like the time I was stranded at Dollar Tree with my two littles?!)  What's your opinion? Cell phone or no? Just curious!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fun with Photoshop: Faking the Lomo Effect

I am having so much fun playing with Photoshop again! The joy and desire to do so had left me for a long while, so this is very happy news. :) Also, one of my favorite online photo editing websites is closing soon and I'm desperately googling ways to mimic some of my favorite effects. I edited this photo of Austin (which was already adorable, of course!*) using a combination of techniques I found through various tutorials, and I love the way it looks! :)

*You can roll over the edited image to see how it looked before.

After school kid quote

"Mom, I hated P.E. today.  It made me dehydrated, weak, dizzy, and gave me a stomach ache and a sore throat.  Oh, and my legs ache."

Maybe today wasn't the best day to make them walk home from school... ;)

He thinks he's such a big boy...

...but he is still my baby, and oh, how I love him. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

on top of the world

totally tuckered

Austin at the reception following my Grandpa's funeral. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Sneak Peek

Our new master bedroom, a.k.a. The Girls' old bedroom
Here's a little look at the great big project we went ahead with during our Spring Break, even though the week also unexpectedly included well-child checks for all of our children, taking up an entire afternoon (okay, well that wasn't really unexpected, but it sure took more time than we anticipated!) and helping with funeral arrangements for my Grandpa, who was laid to rest yesterday morning.  It was a crazy week, but a great one, and I have to say that I LOVE the way our new bedrooms are coming along.  Here's what we decided to do:  our bedroom, which I always thought was way too crazy big to begin with, became the new shared bedroom for all five kids.  And contrary to what one might first think, they actually have MORE room to play than they did in their former bedrooms, which became our master bedroom (pictured above) and a brand new study.  Although we had a study years ago (when Dylan was a baby) I never imagined I would ever again have a study in this house!  There is still a lot of work to be done in changing out closets, but so far I am just so pleased with how beautiful and practical the rooms are.  The kids absolutely love their great big new room (pictures to come soon; we're still waiting for Dylan's bed to be delivered!) and I think our new master bedroom is so peaceful.  Caitlyn and Dylan have already discovered that the new study makes a perfect reading room.  :)  I can't wait to share more before and after photos! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kristen!

Our sweet Kristen Marie turned FOUR years old today!  I still have a hard time believing that our teeny tiny baby is such a big girl now.  I'm re-posting the video I made on the day we brought her home from the hospital.  I still get teary eyed every time I watch it! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Requiescat in Pace

My Grandpa passed peacefully from this world into the loving embrace of his heavenly Father late last night.  Among the many blessings in his nearly 93 years of life were my Nana, to whom he was married for 63 years; 9 children; 21 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.  He was one of the kindest men I've ever known, living his life in perfect imitation of the quote popularly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:  "Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”  A host of angels and saints must have surely rejoiced in greeting him upon his arrival home!   We love you, Grandpa, and look forward to the day we can see you again in our Father's glorious kingdom! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Good News and Bad News

The good news:  My mom is back in town!

The bad news:  Her parents' poor health prompted her early return.  :(

I hate to divulge too much of my grandparents' health history, but I would like to ask for prayers for healing and peace for all involved.  My uncles (and my mom) have been doing a remarkable job of coordinating care and rotating visits between my Nana in the hospital, my Grandpa in hospice, and my Aunt, who has Down Syndrome and is unable to stay alone in my grandparent's house. 

Dear Jesus, 
Divine Physician and Healer of the Sick, 
we turn to You in this time of illness.
O dearest Comforter of the Troubled, 
alleviate our worry and sorrow with Your gentle love,
and grant us the grace and strength to accept this burden.
Dear God, we place our worries in Your hands. 
We ask that You restore Your servant to health again.
Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge Your holy will 
and know that whatsoever You do,
You do for the love of us.


My grandparents around the time of my sixth birthday.  I love the joy that lights their faces.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A driving home from work haiku

orange horizon
valley bathed in pale pink light 
cold blushing daybreak

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A boy and his monster

An inseparable pair

Can you see where Elmo is hiding in this picture?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Going Green

One of the happy discoveries I've made in researching more healthy foods is that of green smoothies.  I know, right?!  Doesn't that name just sound revolting?  They really are quite yummy, though, and I am so grateful to one of my coworkers for directing me to this website.  So many great recipes there!  (Not all of them are "green".)  One of my favorites is super easy to whip up and is a big hit with my kids, too!  We call it Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie:  blend several ice cubes, one large, ripe banana, a great big handful of fresh baby spinach leaves, one tablespoon of peanut butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon and dash of vanilla, and one cup of Flaxmilk (or any mik of your choice; I appreciate the low calories and extra nutrients in the Flaxmilk, and I can buy it at Walmart!) until smooth.  I always share this, and my half equals about 3 WW pointsa perfect mid-morning or afternoon treat!  :)   

Blogging in bullets

  • I haven't walked the kids to school in many, many weeks, opting instead to drive the short distance due to the cold and windy weather, but this morning it's a beautiful 61 degrees so out came the stroller from the back of the van and down the street we went!  It felt so good to be moving again!  The kids were so happy; they much prefer walking.  I took the uphill route home with Kristen and Austin in their double stroller and could really feel it in my legs! 
  • I decided at the beginning of the year to get back on track with Weight Watchers, having abandoned it last Spring and regaining all (plus a little more) of the weight I had lost.  This time around I've been much more diligent with my points and have so far lost (approximately) 26 pounds!  I am so happy!  I can really tell a difference in the way my clothes are fitting, and even though I hadn't mentioned it to anyone, people are starting to notice!  Meghan's teacher asked me on the way in to school this morning if I was losing weight...made my day!  :)
  • I was going to dedicate an entire post to how much I'm missing my lost smart phone, but was ashamed of how petty and immature that is and so have decided to offer up this small suffering as a Lenten sacrifice that God has demanded of me because He, in His infinite wisdom, knew that it was one I particularly needed.  (I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's missing it...)
  • Darren got a new (to us) car last month and whenever I'm behind the wheel, I feel like a teenager again learning to drive for the first time!  It's so funny!  I can't figure out where anything is and the seats feel sooo much different than my minivan.  The craziest things seem to happen whenever I take it out for a spin.  I was driving it home from my dad's house last Sunday and had just exited the highway when I saw a Sheriff's car in my rearview mirror exit behind me, and then his lights flashed as he pulled me over!  What?!  I knew I hadn't been speeding, I used my turn signal to exit, and I didn't even HAVE a phone on which to be talking or texting, lol!  (See how the Lord provides?  :) )  Turns out he couldn't read the date on our temporary tags, but checked things out and realized it was a perfectly legitimate mistake.  (He was very polite and, as luck would have it, we were able to pick up our permanent license plate the next day.)
  • Spring break is coming up, March 19-23!  We've got a great big project in the works for that week and I am SO excited!  It's going to be so much work but I think it will be so amazing when it's all finished.  
  • Closing with a recent desert sunset photo I took on our way to AHG, for no other reason than that I love it.  :)   

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Dylan's Art

One of my many fears when deciding to send the kids to public school was that Dylan would no longer enjoy the freedom to express his artistic talents.

This was drawn on the back of the math homework he brought home last night.
In case you can't read it, the fine print says "Parody of 'The Cat in the Hat', by Dr. Seuss."

I guess I shouldn't have worried too much, after all.

His teachers affectionately call him "The Artist".  :)

Monday, March 05, 2012

At the park after school today...

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

In celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday last Friday, students were encouraged to dress up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character for a fun filled day at school! The morning began by singing "Happy Birthday" out in the school yard, followed by a parade around the playground and costume contest, and stories/movies were available throughout the day for teachers and parent volunteers to share in the classrooms. Ice cream sandwiches were a final treat at the end of the day! Dylan, Caitlyn, and Meghan said it was one of their best school days ever. :)

I had so much fun running around town with Kristen and Austin earlier in the week, seeking inspiration and putting together items to use as costumes. We all brainstormed together and really loved the costumes we came up with! Dylan really wanted to be the grinch, but we couldn't find any green clothes. (Too bad stores aren't stocking sweat suits anymore! Everybody has switched over to more spring like attire!) We also thought Bartholomew Cubbins would be fun (from The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins) but it was still a little too cold to wear shorts.  I happened to find a plush "Wocket", though, as I was browsing in Savers one day and his costume came together really quickly after that!  Brown cargo pants and a long sleeved red tee, also found at Savers that day, completed the look of the main character in There's a Wocket in My Pocket

Caitlyn was absolutely decided that she would be the Cat in the Hat, and I LOVE the way she looked in her finished costume!  I found a soft, fuzzy black sweater on clearance at Walmart and a white turtleneck to wear with her black leggings, and the party supply store my brother suggested to me carried a Cat in the Hat accessory kit with the cutest hat, tie, and gloves!  Meghan's costume was also so much fun to put together.  I found the most perfect little dress on a clearance rack at Walmart (only $3!!!!  It was the only one, and it was her size!!!) to wear as little Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch movie featuring Jim Carrey.  (It's not my favorite version, but the Cindy Lou Who character is so adorable that I knew it be the perfect costume for Meghan!)  We found some faux hair accessories at a little store in the mall that just added so much fun to her hair.  I found a tutorial online to make her hair really stand up (a card stock cone placed on top of her head with her hair brushed up around it!).  We added little braids and ribbons around the sides and back of her hair and now I'm really wishing I had thought to take some close ups of just the hairit was so wild and cute!   She acutally won the best costume in the Cindy Lou Who category! 

Caitlyn was a little disappointed that she didn't win in her category, but was thrilled to see that a full color photo of her was featured in our local newspaper the next day!  Dylan didn't mind a bit that he didn't win anything; he just had a great time being silly!  (We did get him a really neat Dr. Seuss biography the next day, though, because we didn't want him to feel left out.  We had apparently gotten rid of our old one, and he had been so disappointed!)

It was a fun, happy day, and I so enjoyed helping my kids celebrate!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Hello again

It's been too quiet here.  I never intend to lapse into such long blogging silences.  The things that weigh heaviest on my heart, though, are not topics I care to discuss in such an open, pubic forum, so instead I say nothing at all but lose, in the process, a record of all the other little happy things that should rightly have mention here.  I just spent some time looking through my archives, alternately laughing and tearing up a bit at the joys and struggles I've shared here in the nearly six years since starting my blog. I'm so glad I have those posts to look back on, while on the other hand, I find myself in such an unfamiliar, transitional period of my growing family's life right now that it's more difficult to discern what is or is not appropriate to share here.  As my children grow older I find more and more often that I'd rather not risk violating their privacy by sharing intimate details of our happiness or heartaches.

One thing I was particularly struck by while reading through old entries was how comparably easy my life used to be.  I never would have imagined it then, but I can say for sure now that having only babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, while busy, was infinitely less troublesome than this mix of big, little, and in- betweens I have now.  Conflicts are frequent, loud, and emotional.  Feelings are hurt on a daily basis.  My level of anxiety, having always tended towards the high side, is through the roof far too often these days.  I'm on edge, stressed out, irritable, and overwhelmed by a number of things (big and small) over which, in some cases, I have no control...and no means to control in other instances.  I'm seriously considering the need for pharmacological intervention (for myself or one of my children.  Or both.).

I think there is a natural human tendency to want what we don't have.  And I don't want much, really.  But what I do miss is weekends with my family. Time spent with my children not yelling or fighting.  Reading to them on the couch.  Knowing what they're learning every day.  A semblance of order about our house.  My mom living here in town.  A natural liturgical rhythm observed with celebrations and traditions.  Feeling at the end of the day that I've done a good job of fulfilling my vocation.  I miss having an identity with which I felt comfortable.  Gradual changes in our family life have necessitated a shift in my role and, consequently, in how I identify myself.  For the most part, I feel like an impostor.  No longer am I the homeschooling mother I was for years.  Austin is the oldest toddler I've ever had without having another little one on the way, but there are no more babies in our foreseeable future, so neither am I the pregnant mama I loved being.  (Thank goodness I can still be, for a while longer, the nursing mama!)  As my children grow older and more independent, though, I am slowly reclaiming my individuality, but far from being liberating or exciting, it is, more accurately, often lonely and more than a little scary.

I don't really know where I'm heading or what the future will bring, so in the mean time I'll just keep loving on my honey and our babies.  (And eating lots of chocolate.  And drinking lots of coffee.)  And trying to figure out this new me I'm becoming.

And, as ever, I will place my trust in the only One who knows all of my worries and fears.