Saturday, May 31, 2014

7 river trip quick takes

Welcome to my quick takes of my happy memories from our fourth annual family and friends river trip to one of my favorite Texas rivers, The Guadalupe,seen through my phone's lens:

1 Critters

This area is healthy nature wise because there are so many bugs and insects around that we don't see as much in the neighborhoods at home (I blame fertilizers and pesticides).
Roley Polly
Sugar Ants
Honey Bees
Lightning Bugs
Flying ants
June bugs
No seeums 
Mosquito's (we see plenty of these)

We convinced ourselves the snakes we saw on the rivers banks didn't want to get in the cold water, being cold blooded and all. They didn't bother us.
We didn't mind sharing the river with lots of turtles, 
(who didn't mind the cold water btw). 
And because we are homeschoolers we learned more about insect behaviors and diets. Pill bugs aren't bugs at all, they are crustaceans and are closer related to shrimp than insects.
Bird watching was great.

They get their own take.
They don't bother us directly, just make a mess of any trash, or food in coolers. We have a double up the trash can system that has fooled them for the past two years.
They hide in and around the bathrooms at night.
I wish I had recorded seven year old Laurence's retelling of his discovery of a raccoon in the men's bath.
I would thinks it's frightening to find a raccoon hiding behind the potty, but to a seven year old boy.. it's the best story ever.

Water... cold water.. cold refreshing water!!

For me water is mentally and physically refreshing
to soak in look at listen.

I saw this recently
And knew it was true

Then I noticed this on my phone 
I am so happy for their friendship:

Here is Lilly's snap of me and my friend Traci having our morning coffee

overlooking this view:

5 Toobing
The best thing in this over technological world
Nothing to do
Stuck in water
Forced relaxation
It's the best!

Water parks
With little ones, it is lots of work,
you can see Interesting people and interesting tattoos.
Get great exercise.
Lots of smiles!

Vacation is good.
It is needed.
Friendships are blessings!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Birthday! + Mother's Day! + Birthday! + Birthday! Recap

This has been a very joyful and busy couple of weeks. I was expecting May to be busy but it has left my head spinning.  May is always a crazy month for us.
These past weekends have had us on the go. Very full, very blessed.  
One Friday we took Ceci to Marilyn's for a spend the night adventure. She kept Marilyn company on errands and in return Marilyn spoiled her. My kids are so blessed to have a special aunt who loves them and has time to give one on one.

Ceci was missed. Lilly couldn't wait to go back the next morning to get her. Lilly has crazy expressions and use of vocabulary beyond her years and understanding. It doesn't help that she has adults with sarcastiic tendencies and witty quips flying around her head.
When she realized only Ceci was going, she started crying hard, mournfully, bordering devastation. She said, "Mom, you are tearing this family apart." Oh my. So imagine her joy when we went to pick Ceci up the next morning. We had errands to run, and finished early, so we met up at Marilyn's and had a visit with her ourselves. 
She surprised Lilly with an early birthday present, Ceci knew exactly what Lilly wanted, and Lilly was over joyed. Mar surprised me with a gift, starting my birthday celebration to a wonderful weekend of Mary/mom appreciation. 
Sometimes I don't like having my birthday and Mother's Day all together, but this year was perfect. 

Molly and I went on a mommy daughter shopping spree.
Did you know ColdWater Creek is closing down, going bankrupt? I am sad to see them go, and I'll miss the good quality clothes. Well it's now all on sale, so we had fun shopping! 

Mother's Day was very busy with May Crowing and First communion at our parish, and I'm in charge of the class, coordinating the day and reception.  It was beautiful and went well. I'm happy it is done. For the reception, I ordered a couple of cakes from a local bakery. We had some miscommunication with the baker. I wanted white cakes with pink and blue accents, she thought I wanted pink and blue cakes and I was afraid it would end up looking like a baby shower. But it was beautiful and tasty. She only uses natural ingredients so the pink was colored by raspberry and the blue by blueberries. Very good.

Lilly's birthday came fast a couple of says later and I wasn't as prepared as I'd hoped if be, but it was fine. She didn't have any expectation for what a birthday should be and was delighted with everything! She wanted pink things and a pink cake, so we had fun finding things she would like in pink. And a few things she'd like that weren't pink.

We made the strawberry cake recipe from Craig's childhood, except I didn't put strawberries in the icing. Light and delicious. Very happy little birthday girl.
In the mean time we have had to fill our days with the closing down of the official school year(some continues through the summer): last music class and performance, last scouts and court of honor, last Ccd classes and celebrations, recitals, and graduation party planning. Not to mention church fundraiser meetings and dinners, a very large Eagle project, dental appointments and housing decisions. 

Molly graduated from high school and turned 18 on her golden birthday celebration.  She is a lovely girl and I'm so happy she will stay close to home for school this next year. 

She had to work on her birthday. So we thought we'd celebrate and embarrass her with a surprise balloon visit from her family

I'm sure she loved seeing us!

Lilly asks everyone their favorite color and informs all that her favorite is pink. If asked for present ideas: it was "pink ----". Her friends and family listened and she now has a few pink additions to her wardrobe and to the toy box in pink.
We had another celebration with our friends today with a rice crispie shaped cake for Lilly closing down the May birthday celebrations for us this year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lilly Love {a birth story}

I woke up snuggling Lilly today,
well actually, she was snuggling me. Her legs were draped over my back, keeping me warm. 
Snuggling is my favorite, I don't care how it works.
She's turning four, and she is the love of my life....
along with my other loves: Max, Molly, Nick, Euly, Ceci and my dear, sweet husband.

Lots of love.

I love being a mom... being their mom.

I was at the park the other day, and Lilly was making her rounds visiting with the other moms and one young mom yelled over to me, "Is this your daughter?" "Yes" "She just told me that you are awesome." So I yelled back over to Lilly that she was awesome too. 

Love. I just love it!

I never imagine my babies before they are here, not during the months of pregnancy, I just can't,  I am unable to visualize that there is a baby inside.  I may know it's a baby, and communicate and touch and talk to, but until that moment after that baby emerges do I really believe it's truly a baby, my baby. I am wonderfully slammed with love at first sight. A real breath taking realization, feeling, awareness.

I have to hold that squiggly ball of flesh in my arms right away!  Snuggle, never want to let go. 

It's the best experience ever. Lilly's is probably the last time I feel that experience. So, here is Lilly's love story birth story.

Since I am getting up there in years, and mainly I didn't know a midwife that would deliver at my home anymore (we moved since last baby, last midwife in Texas had moved off while I was in Georgia...) a birth center wasn't far away, and it made sense to trust a birth center this time. I found a lovely group of midwives to be by my side during my sixth pregnancy. 

All went well with the pregnancy.  We had to watch the blood pressure, and thankfully didn't have to worry about gestational diabetes since this pregnancy I hated sugar the moment of her conception. I craved good foods, mostly protein and vegetables, and so had no trouble with weight gain. Wonderfully healthy pregnancy. My stomach muscles were not too happy being stretched again, my back was tired, and I needed lots of naps.

Ever since Nick's pregnancy and delivery (birth story in progress, long story short- maybe two weeks or more past due, ten pounds twelve ounces) , my body and I agreed, any future babies would not wait, but come as soon as the midwife gave the green light at around 37 weeks, we would have this baby. Don't ask me the secret, maybe red raspberry leaf tea helped, or my body just knew we weren't going there again. So at about 36 1/2 weeks, on a Friday night, Craig and Molly has just returned from a trip to Costco,  we decided to watch a movie, at ten at night. Both these events should have signaled some thing's up, because besides naps, I also relished in going to bed early and sleeping late.

Just as I sat down on the ottoman, and my water broke, ..a little, not completely. My heart leaped a beat, and excitement ran in my veins faster than my mind processed. I knew we would see a baby soon.

"Kids go to bed..
Craig call the midwife,
Molly grab my stuff!"

The midwife thought we should wait to come in until contractions started.  Here's the problem with new caretakers each pregnancy, they don't have your history in mind, and think oh, all moms think it will happen fast, haha. We have a history of quick labors. We end up surprising them and making Craig nervous. 

I had some look in my eye that told Craig, get in the car and go.
Midwife said she'd meet us there at midnight. I said let's get in the car and drive around the parking lot until she showed up. (Birthing center, not open 24 hours). Every bump in the road was painful, excitement was the overriding feeling, thought and emotion.

The midwife drove up as we did, and we all rushed in, flipping on lights. We met the night midwife on duty, I hadn't met her before. But there is a quality in woman that aids in delivery which creates an immediate bond, building trust, excitement in sharing this miracle.

She review my chart, and the last lab test revealed something that needed and iv before delivery. I don't remember what it was, but agreed because although contractions hadn't hit bad, I knew we didn't have time to waste. So iv done as quick as possible, then I walked into birthing room.

I had remembered the birthing room had a welcoming southern style bed, and I had noticed the tubs before during my visit, but after midnight, in the dark quiet room, the lights were on the tub the the center of the room, calling me-  cue angelic singing. 

I felt a wave of nausea, quickly emptied my stomach, and asked if I could go ahead and get in the tub.
Still no major contractions, I'm sure she thought, sure, lady, you'll be here for hours, but warmed the water for me. I didn't wait for the tub to be more than a few inches deep and I settled in. Something I didn't notice in my birthing room tour were the foot hold and hand holds in the tubs design, which proved most helped in the next moments.

Once in the water, cue serious contractions.  Craig and Molly were there with me. Craig has learned what I need during labor is to know he is there, to let me hold and squeeze his strong hand during contractions, and keep conversation to a minimum. 
Molly was 13 (3 days from her 14th birthday). Since she probably will be a mom some day, it would be a good experience to see labor. And it was. I would moan, or yell with a contraction,  then apologize or explain to her that I was ok, not to worry. Not sure what she was thinking. 

It didn't last long and I asked the midwife if I could push. She seemed surprised, but said, sure! Not many pushes and that baby shot across the tub, not really, but I felt like she should have.

I couldn't get her in my arms fast enough. 

She was fair and had a touch of red in her hair. The midwife exchanged out the water, and let me relax holding her in the warm water. 

Heavenly moments floating on a cloud.

I decided to get out and try the bed for nursing, get cleaned up a bit. And then hunger pains hit. This is wee hours of the morning, my darling hero goes out in search of food and brings back a breakfast feast. I remember pancakes and bacon and syrup. Sugar hate was over, bring on the syrup! 
With a full belly, I was starting to feel sleepy and asked if I could go home. The midwife answered, sure! So at 4 am, we were tucked back in the car, headed home with our sleepy precious baby.

It was the most efficient four hours of my life.

After the thirty minute drive home, we were greeted by Max at the back door, he had been too excited to sleep. The other kids woke to welcome their new sister.

Days of joy followed.

 and followed...
Motherhood is the best. It's my reason, my purpose in life, and in return I receive many joys and gifts along the journey of life. You know how people will ask (after you've had your first two kids)  are you done? Well, after you get a few gray hair and wrinkles,  that question seems more like a command. I would love to have another baby. But that phase of my life seems to be passing. What better experience is there in life than participate with God to bring another life into this world? And that isn't just some random some body, it is part you and part your husband, a formula for instant love and bonding. 

Happy birthday my sweet little Lilly. I am so thankful you are here!

I'm linking Lilly's birth story at Grace's Camp Paton link along with ones I wrote for Max, Molly and Eulalia.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Queen of the May: phfr with roses and a procession

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
{pretty} and {happy}
May Crowning at our parish.
Our tradition is to crown a statue of Mary the first Sunday in May, the youngest of my first communion class to have the honor or placing the crown, and flowers for everyone else to offer to Our Lady.

 We have some talented people in our parish that help with the flowers and the crown each year.
We start outside, with the fathers of children in the first communion class to carry in the bier with a statue of Our Blessed Mother, followed by the FHC students with special bouquets to place in front, then choir...

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May

{funny} and {real}
(I am not sure why I always have to mention: we are still meeting in the Family Life Center for Mass...maybe to reassure myself... someday..hopefully soon?... we will have our own church  for Mass?...and to explain why the background is so un-church-like).
Ceci took this shot of the ladies' choir singing "Immaculate Mary" and "Queen of the May" during the crowning.
I was busy with my First Communion class that I hadn't noticed who ended up watching Lilly. I shouldn't have been surprised that she preferred to be part of the choir, since she spends her days singing.
She looks like a proud mascot.

Go visit Leila at Like Mother Like Daughter
I am so excited to be reading Leila's beautiful book,
a treasure for a Catholic mother!
Product Details

Friday, May 2, 2014

7 Friday Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about your awesomeness, saints working through Youtube, and me buying you a banana suit

1. I had to drive ole Harvee our Rv in to the city for more diagnostics on its transmission. I don't mind driving the 37 foot big box, but to drive it into town with morning traffic gets me a little nervous. Small cars can't wait to cut in front of me apparently assuming I could stop as quick as they if need be. I have to hold my lane, take my turn to survive the traffic flow be a little more aggressive to get where I need to go.  At one point, after stopping for tolls, and having to gain two lanes back to the left, I felt a little like this:

I do love our rv. When driving something this big you have to be patient, don't worry about being anywhere at a certain time, "rv time." 
I can't really call it camping, we're just taking a smaller home mobile away from home. It beats tent camping, well, the obvious: it has AC! It beats hotels for us: with so many kids, they say we need three rooms. With the rv we have no need for luggage and we don't need to stop for meals. It works nice for a big family. I can't wait to get out on the road this summer...hoping the transmission mystery is finally solved.
I do like to think about full time rv life, but don't think I could actually take the leap like this family.

I laughed when I saw this video. It's not my kids I worry about inventive pronunciation I worry about what they have learned from me: especially the butchering of pronunciation of names of Ancient Romans and Greeks and locations. I warn them to be on the look out for the correct pronunciation. We're reading Lord of the Rings, and I'm tempted to watch the movie to make sure my pronunciation is close.

I am waiting for my copy of Jen's book Something Other than God to come in the mail. 
Have you seen the trailer? 
I did see this good news in my email today:
"Your order of "Something Other Than God..." has shipped!"

Happily, I do have something wonderful to read this weekend. I received Leila's book today, and am so excited to read it. It looks so thorough and wonderful. I wish I had it when I was starting out with my kids. I still can use and implement ideas in our lives now. Great gift for a new mom or mom of young children.
May is already very busy! And with birthdays and anniversaries, recitals, a graduation, May crowning, First communion, college kid coming home, friend's Eagle project and an annual family trip with good friends, my calendar is already full, but looks like it will be a great month. Just a little longer to have a three year old in the house, Lilly turns four this month.
"Mom, I'm three!"

Since Molly will have a home school high school graduation ceremony, we decided to have fun and take a few senior portraits. From our first session:


I love the smell of lumber in the morning. When we moved to Austin in the 70's with the first boom, our house was the first built in the street so the smell of fresh lumber filled those next years with the street filling in. Makes me think of something wonderful about to be built. 
Tomorrow twenty Boy Scouts will come over and start the first phase of a scout's Eagle project of building houses for rescued wolves. Something wonderful for those animals. Next week the boys install the houses and I hope get a glimpse of the wolves in their new homes.