Thursday, May 29, 2008

Portrait session

Now that Gustin is one year old, it was time to get his portraits done again. I have to say, I really dislike taking my kids to a portrait studio to get their pictures done. It's so much work to get the all dressed up and trying to time it so we arrive there after a good nap and with a full belly so that the baby is not grumpy. And, my kids are always scared of those places. They don't like the strangers, the bright lights or being taken out of Mommy's arms and placed on a table covered in some kind of furry, carpet thing.

So, this time I decided to do something different. I asked my brother to come over and take the pictures with his fancy shmancy new camera. And, it worked great! Gustin played and was happy and gave us lots of smiles and I wasn't stressed at all! I'm getting all my family members to pick which pose they like best and then I'll place orders online for the prints and have them shipped directly to their houses.

Here's the pic I chose for his portrait:
He's playing in the sandbox in our backyard.

And, here a few of my other favorites taken while he played on and around a chair in the living room:
Not bad, huh?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First day of summer

For us, today is the first day of summer because on Friday Jonathan became a Kindergarten graduate! As soon as I retrieve the pictures from Eric's camera I'll post some of the proud boy.

I'm so excited to have him home during the day again. But, it also means all of our routines are changing. The good thing is we don't have to wake up super early anymore or make the 1+ hour round trip to pick Jonathan up from school in the afternoon. The bad thing is I'm a creature of habit that doesn't like changing routines so the adjustment will probably throw me off for awhile.

Over the summer I want to do just a couple of things with Jonathan. I want him to read to me every day and do his journal. His teacher had him do a journal entry every day in school and I love it. She would give him a stem (like "This weekend I...) and he would have to complete the sentence and then draw a picture about what he wrote. It has been so fun going through his journal to see some of the things that were on his mind.

Yesterday I told Jonathan about my plans and he likes it but added that he wants to do his spelling spiral and his math workbook, too. My boy likes to learn!

So, how much school do you homeschoolers do over the summer? Should I keep it simple (reading and journal only) or should I go with his excitement to learn and include math and spelling words? I don't want to overdo it and burn him out.

Thanks for any advice!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cinderella motivation

Elizabeth spilled her glass of juice today. So, I threw her a towel so she could clean it up. She began only halfheartedly, distracted by something her brother was doing. Then all of a sudden her eyes lit up, she got down on her hands and knees and started really scrubbing.

"Mommy!" she called. "I'm doing it just like Cinderella!"

Hmmmm . . . Do you think her mother could use this new motivation to get her to pick up her toys as well? We might be on to something here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I think it's time to get a bigger bed

This is where Gustin sleeps every night. (Please ignore the mismatched sheets and pillow cases!) You see those 8 1/2 inches of bed to the right of Gustin? That's where I sleep.
I try to get him to sleep in his crib. Last night I tried five times before I finally gave up. Between my limited sleeping space and Gustin still waking up between one and four times a night, I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in, oh ... say... about a year. :) Is it too much to ask for a one year old to sleep for at least a couple of hours each night in his own bed?

When I took this picture last night, Eric asked me if it was going to be a blog post. I said only if I can make it not sound gripey (I guess that's not a real word because spell check doesn't know how to spell it). I don't know if I've succeeded, but I just needed a chance to miserate (again, not a real word) or commiserate or vent or whatever you want to call it.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My baby is little

Gustin had his one year check up last week and I was surprised when I heard where he fell on the growth charts. My kids have always been on the tall side. Jonathan is one of the tallest in his class and people often think Elizabeth is older than she is due to her height.

But, Gustin in only at the 15th percentile. I never realized that he is small! Not that there is anything wrong with that. I love my little boy just the same. It's just that I understand what it's like to be tall. I know the blessings and struggles and I feel like it is a characteristic that I can relate to. I have no idea what it is like to be small. Especially a small boy.

I actually thought that maybe the doctor was wrong. At least I did until I saw him standing next to his second cousin this weekend.Gustin was born 8 days before his cousin, but he's much smaller. My little boy is little! I don't know why that fact amazes me so much.

Of course, I have nothing to worry about. Gustin, like each of my children, will have his own talents and difficulties to overcome. And, Eric was always the little boy when he was growing up. He's average height for a man now, but he didn't finish growing until well into college. So, Eric will be able to be there for him to relate to. I guess it makes me a little sad that I won't be the one who will always be able to be there for him. Of course, he could go on a growth spurt tomorrow. Or he may continue to be small. Either way, I know he'll lead me on a great adventure.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The New Table is Here! - Version 2

Alternate title: The long version

My anniversary present has finally arrived!

So, it's time to say good-bye to the 20-plus year old hand-me-down table we have been using. Don't get me wrong. I've been very thankful for it. It has served us well and many, many nourishing meals have been served on its stained, chipped Formica top.
But, it's time to say good-bye to broken casters and using the office chair at the table when we want to be able to sit six people.

It's time to say good-bye to the torn, vinyl chairs that Elizabeth says, "scratch her bottom".
It's also time to say good-bye to the ability to rock my babies to sleep while sitting at the kitchen table. Each chair had it's own characteristic squeaks and groans that helped soothe even my grumpiest baby.

But, now we welcome a newer, classier table to our home. Somehow I feel more grown up and mature in its presence. I know it will witness many special meals and conversations through the years to come.This morning it was christened with maple syrup, jelly, crumbs and drips of milk. Welcome to the family!

The New Table is Here! - Version 1

Alternate title: The Short Version

In between:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Birthday boy and his cupcake

For a child that doesn't like food all that much (though I have to say he really is improving in that arena), Gustin sure did tear into his birthday cupcake! I think I have a chocolate lover on my hands.

At first he wasn't so sure about this.
Then he took a little taste.
Then he got after it. Using two hands gets more cake in the mouth faster.
This eating stuff is fun when you give me chocolate cake!Starting to get a little tired.

P.S. These pictures were taken on my brother's fancy shmancy new digital SLR camera. Can I say that I'm in love? This camera was amazing and I'm so completely hooked! But, those suckers are a bit pricey. Maybe I can convince all my family to pool together all the money that they will spend on me for Christmas and birthdays for the next five years and get me one. Or maybe not. But, it sure is fun to dream.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Storm Trippers

Jonathan: Mommy, do you know what the name of Darth Vader's soldiers is? They are named Storm Trippers. They're called Storm Trippers because they shoot those blaster guns and the red things come out and they trip people and make them fall down. Really. I've seen it.

Happy Birthday Baby!

My how things have changed in the last year. One year ago today, we went from anticipation... To reality.
We have been so greatly blessed! I love you my little angel.
Happy birthday Augustine Luke!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Isn't it great being a mom?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Papal memories

Gustin took an hour and a half nap today in bed and it's amazing how better I feel this evening. Why, I'm down right perky! Since Pope Benedict's historical visit, I've been wanting to post about my memories of another time a pope came to the US and tonight I just might get it done.

OK, it's been about 18 hours since I wrote the above. Life intervened, beginning with Elizabeth accidentally falling over on top of Gustin and it went down hill from there. But, Gustin is again down for a nap so we'll see how far I can get this time. :)

Growing up I went to our local Catholic elementary school, which I absolutely loved. My sister (who was one year behind me in school) and I were both in the school choir. Looking back, that fact is really funny because I can not sing. I try, but really, it is not good. But, lucky for me, singing ability was not a requirement for joining the choir. During my fourth grade year, Pope John Paul II came to the US and his trip included a stop in San Antonio, Texas. Our choir teacher decided that we should audition to be one of the choirs who would sing at the large outdoor mass that JPII would say during his visit.

I remember going up to school one weekend and singing several simple hymns (such as Like a Sunflower and Sing a New Song) over and over again while our choir teacher tried to capture our best attempts on a little cassette player/recorder. Our innocent, unpolished voices must have impressed someone because we were chosen to be one of the choirs featured before mass. We were all so excited, even though at the time we really didn't understand how unique this opportunity was.

When the big day finally came for our trip to San Antonio, we all arrived at school at three o'clock in the morning to board the bus. Even though I don't think I had ever gotten up that early in my whole life, I was not tired but instead bubbling with excitement. We had a very busy day ahead of us. After a 5 or 6 hour bus ride to San Antonio, we went to the grounds where the mass was to be held so we could practice and get instructions about the mass that would be the next day. That evening we settled in at a dormitory of a local convent. I have fond memories of playing heartily on the green, grassy grounds and finally falling into an exhausted sleep on the floor of the dormitory surrounded by classmates and chaperons.

The next morning we again awoke very early, dressed in our school uniforms, ate muffins and pastries supplied by the sisters and went back to the mass venue. Security was much tighter this time. I remember going through metal detectors which was fascinating to me. We had brought a banner with our motto on it, "We who sing pray twice," but we were not allowed to bring in the rods that formed the stand for it. Instead we all took turns holding it up ourselves.

Seats were reserved for us immediately to the right of the altar. A massive platform that seemed as big as a mountain to my ten year old eyes had been erected with the altar on top. Even though we were right next to it, when JPII was saying mass he looked so small and far away.

We sang a couple of hours before mass began. I remember being disappointed because the pope wasn't actually there to hear us sing. It was all over so quickly that I hardly remember the actual singing though I do remember the massive line of port-a-potties that we passed on the way to the stage. Isn't it strange the things we remember?

We next went back to our seats to await the arrival of the pope. The area where our seats were was roped off and the path that the pope-mobile would travel on went right past us. Our chaperons gave us strict instructions that we must remain in our seats and could not run up to the ropes when the pope drove by. Of course, as soon as we could catch a glimpse of the pope-mobile on the way, all the adults ran to the ropes to see. None of us kids could see him even though we stood on our chairs. I remember thinking it was so unfair that the adults didn't follow their own rules!

We then settled in for the mass. I remember hearing JPII's voice on the PA system echoing across the massive grounds, first in English, then in Spanish. Too bad I can't remember a word of what he said. It wasn't long before my exhausted little body fell asleep sitting up in my chair. My friend's mother, who was traveling with us, propped up an umbrella to shade me so I wouldn't get a sunburn while I slept. I was awoken just in time for communion. After receiving we had to leave the mass, pile in the bus, and begin the long journey home.

We felt like celebrities back at home. Our pictures were on the front page of the local newspaper and all the local television stations covered our trip.

I treasure all these memories of my one and only encounter with Pope John Paul II. I feel privileged to have been able to sing for him (even if he wasn't there!). I dearly miss our Holy Father and am so grateful for the wonderful gift he was to us, the church.

Pope John Paul the Great, pray for us!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


They've already started to wrestle with each other.
I know this is just the beginning!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A day at the ball park

Alternate title: The day Jonathan got two loose teeth!

Yesterday we went to an Astros baseball game. It was so much fun and the weather was absolutely perfect!
This was our view from the cheap seats in the nosebleed section. This is only the second professional baseball game that I have ever been to. At the first one, the Astros lost horribly (something like 14-1), but we were hopeful that today they would give us a better show. They sure did. At one point they were down 6-2 but they came back and tied it up in the bottom of the nineth. We stayed through the tenth inning, but by then the kids had had enough. The sports lover in me was dying at having to leave such an exciting game. The Astros did finally win it with a two run homer in the twelfth inning, which we heard on the radio in the car on the drive home. What a great game!

Here's Eric entertaining Gustin. Sometimes a dad has to be willing to make some sacrifices to keep his baby happy. This time Eric's hat turned into a chew toy.
I think Elizabeth had fun. She didn't like getting her picture taken and she sucked her thumb a lot. But, she loved it when Daddy took her on a walk around the ballpark and she made sure that she brought her pink baseball glove.
At one point during the game I noticed that Jonathan had a gap between his bottom two front teeth, which in not normal. On closer inspection we discovered that he has two loose teeth! I think that discovery was much more exciting for him than the game was. For the rest of the day he say things like, "The two loose tooth boy is ready for supper," or "Mommy, I have two loose teeth!" (he said that only about two hundred times) or "At school tomorrow I'm going to write in my journal that I got two loose teeth at the Astros game this weekend." This morning the instant he woke up he said, "I think my two loose teeth are much more looser!" And, meanwhile, I feel kind of like I did on the first day of Kindergarten. My little boy is growing up! My heart is warming and breaking all at the same time.
I'll leave you with one last picture. A rare shot with Mommy in it. Of course, I had to take it myself!

Friday, May 2, 2008

A mystery

We have an unsolved mystery in our vegetable garden. I mentioned before that we planted some marigolds in the garden between the tomato plants because they are supposed to help deter pests. At least in theory. The reality is that about two days after we planted, the marigold were eaten. And not just a little nibble on the leaves. Entire plants are gone. They just disappeared overnight. Then branches on the tomato plants started to disappear and then one morning we found this:
It was a two foot tall tomato plant, now it's a stump. This morning I found a pepper plant that met the same fate. We've had trouble with slugs and caterpillars in the past, but I think this pest is much larger. We have a varmint. And, we better discover what and how to stop it or soon we're not going to have any garden left!