Thursday, October 10, 2013

i had the best intentions to blog every morning since i last blogged, but obviously it didn't happen. i did blog once but never published it. i guess that doesn't count.

today is my friday since brian is taking tomorrow off for us to get away a bit for our anniversary. ben and linda (brian's parents) are coming this evening to stay with the kids. they'll have their plate full with all the kids regular activities plus some. i'm so thankful for the active role they play in their grandkids' lives. they'll have two football practices to get boys to, Margaret to pick up at the airport, a cross country meet for Margaret, two football games, and homework to remind kids to do. not to mention Hazel to wrangle! this will be the first time they've kept Hazel over night. actually the first time she's been away from us at all over night.

yesterday we got to get a peek at Baby Wells. She is beautiful and looks healthy and whole. i love her already! the only concern was marginal placenta previa which Dr. Love believes will resolve on its own before delivery. i'll need another ultrasound in 8 weeks to make sure it's moved away from the cervix. other than that, there really wasn't any big news. blood pressure and weight were good. i've gained 11 pounds so far which is probably more than i had gained with Hazel at this point, but i guess it's still in the "good range", and my BP was 100/70 which is good. i've been exercising a lot (walked 9 miles yesterday!), but have been eating junk lately. gotta fix that.

i got the best news yesterday (on top of the good baby news)! my oldest and dearest best friend is moving to steiner ranch! i'm thrilled beyond words! her boys will be in the same schools as ours, too! we've never lived near each other, so this will be a whole new thing for us. looking forward to many good times ahead with Tasha and her family!

well, margaret gets back from New York tomorrow. that is if she doesn't decide to find a way to stay. she has fallen in love with the city and i'm sure is going to figure out a way to get back there as soon as she graduates high school. i can totally see her studying art at some university up there. i'm afraid she's going to find suburban austin awfully dull after her week in the Big Apple.

well, got places to go and people to see.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

i'm blogging! i have put it off so long because it seems impossible to catch up on all of life that has passed by since i last blogged! i'm not even going to attempt that, except to give a brief overview. well, hopefully brief.

the kids have comfortably settled into their new schools and a new routine. they've  been at it for over a month and all are doing well. 

Margaret loves high school, especially the way they treat them like adults, a big jump from middle school, so she says. she chose art and athletics for her three electives (athletics counts as two). next year she'll have more options and will begin taking a foreign language. she chose to take one pre-AP course, that being English, and one AP course: human  geography. those have been her toughest classes, but she's hanging in there. she's also taking algebra 1 and biology. she has a class called ACE which is all about college and career plans that is required for all freshman. she's been working out with the cross country team since the beginning of august, which she has enjoyed immensley. she leaves the house every morning at 6 to join the team for runs. she fared very well the first few meets, but got injured about three weeks ago with what seems to be a stress fracture. she was on crutches for awhile,  but has recovered and hopes to run again in friday's meet. she's also taken on a babysitting job for a family two doors down which she's so grateful for. she used to babysit regularly for the one family in Austin, but we're too far away for her to babysit very often for them now. and speaking of that family, they've invited Margaret to go to New York with them next week to help with their boys. she's been cleared to miss a week of school and is thrilled for the opportunity!

Samuel has surprised us in how well he has adjusted to his new situation. we convinced him to sign up for athletics instead of PE, since he's such an athletic boy. the only problem with that is that all boys in athletics are required to play football, a sport Samuel has never been intersted it. he didn't know the slightest thing about the game, which iis a very complicated game to explain! he made up his mind to give it his best shot and has done remarkably well. he mostly plays nose tackle has had many quarterback sacks. he loves the camaraderie of being part a school team. he has football buddies that sit with him at lunch and play basketball with him after school. i think that the fact that he has done well in football has transfered over into his academics. he's been so much more confident this year than ever before, and for him attitude is everthing. when he feels bad about himself he shuts down and doesn't even try. getting out every morning and pushing himself on the field, then going to class...i don't know what it is, but it seems to be working for him. he loves his teachers and his coaches and is just happy. he rides his bike to school every morning, carrying a backpack full of books and his lunch box, a sports bag with his basketball, and a couple of times a week another sports bag with his football laundry. if he was hit by a car he'd be just fine with all that padding surrounding him. Samuel has grown so responsible over the last year! he comes home and does his homework without reminders or complaint, a huge improvement over how he was just a couple of years ago. of his own volition he goes to the appropiate teachers if he feels he needs tutoring. the thing we're most proud of is that he is survivng without any formal accomodations being made for hos Aspergers or ADD. the counselor suggested we just wait and see how he does before intervening to help him, and amazingly he's not only survived, but thrived. 

it has been so exciting to watch him (and Margaret) grow up and grow more independent. i see both of them becoming their own people and making wise (most of the time) decisions, and Brian and i sit back and think, wow! how did they know to do that?! i just don't understand why some parents want to control their kids and keep them from growing up. that has never appealed to me. i want them to grow up and be the people God made them to be, not young adults still waiting for us to tell them what to do at every turn, or clones of me or Brian. anyways, thats for another discussion at another time.

William was disappointed that we decided to hold him back a year and put him in 5th grade instead of letting him go on to middle school. he has a late birthday and has always been small for his age. also we had a less than stellar year homeschooling last year and we knew the kids were going into a school district with much higher expectations than that which they had been in previously. he seems to be happy enough now and is doing quite well. he has near perfect grades in almost every subject. and the most exciting thing is that HE TALKS! for those who have followed my blog for the last four or so years, you will realize what a huge deal that is. William went the first four years of school without speaking AT ALL! no one believed us when we said that he talked perfectly normal at home or with extended family. he played the role of a mute so well eveyone thought he could not speak.  anyways, he's matured a lot and pretty much acts like a normal, though a big shy kid. he and John ride their bikes to school together every day, and i think it's been so good for him to have to step up and be the big brother instead of being the middle brother (or Samuel's little brother). William has always been high anxiety, but i see it working more for him more than against him as he gets older. it helps him stay on top of things and cover all the bases. as long as he can temper it with the realization that he cannot control everything, he'll do well. 

John is a happy-go-lucky 3rd grader this year. we held him back a year as well. he has struggled tremendously with learning to read, and we're so thankful to be in a school district that jumps on learning problems quickly and has the resources to deal with them. he qualified for SRP (Supplemental Reading Program) which will aggressively target his struggles with reading, writing, and phonics. if he continues to have trouble, he will be tested for dyslexia. I've already seen improvement in his reading ability, though his writing and spelling are still very poor. other than that, he's doing well. he likes his teacher and his classmates, and likes that he gets to sit on an exercise ball in class instead of a desk chair. he is the least independent of our kids, and i think it's not just that he's the youngest of the four, i think it's his personality, too. he is dreamy, carefree, and needs lots of reminders and helps. even though he's in school, i still spend many hours a week working with him on reading, writing, and math. I'm learning to value those hours, as tiring and frustrating as they sometimes are. i know it won't always be that way. 

And then there's Hazel and me. that girl is high maintenance! i feel guilty about this, but right now she's parked in front of the tv watching babytv, thanks to the new world of cable tv that has been opened up to us. if she wasn't watching, she'd be putting on my makeup or drawing on the floor or walls, or pulling all the food out of the pantry and stacking it on the dining table bench. she is constantly changing clothes, or at least trying, forever asking me to read, paint her nails, color with her, or go walking. she asks why about everything! she loves cheese, peanuts, beans, oranges, popsicles, and french fries with ketchup. she says everyone's name but Margaret's which seems to be too difficult for some reason. she is thrilled when one-by-one the big kids get home from school. days with her are long and tiring, but also fun. we go walking a lot - I've been shooting for 6 miles every day. she helps me clean, we take bubble baths together, take care of our patio garden, go to the library, go to Bible study, go grocery shopping, fold laundry, walk to Samuel's school to watch his football practices, visit William and John for lunch, and just do girl friend stuff together. 

next week marks the halfway point in my pregnancy! it has pretty much flown by, i guess with all the busyness of keeping up with a family of seven i just lose track of time. I've felt pretty good, just more tired this go round than ever before. i have an ultrasound next wednesday when we'll hopefully find out whether it's a boy or girl. Brian is thinking it's a girl, most the kids say it's a boy. i don't know. we have some names we like, but nothing is decided on. either way, Hazel is going be over the moon when she realizes she's getting a baby of her own! we've been telling her that there's a baby in my tummy, and showing her pictures online. lately, as she's seen my belly grow, she's started asking about "the baby in my tummy". =)

Brian and i celebrate our 16th anniversary next week. sixteen years! i'm more grateful every year that passes. we're getting away for a long weekend, the first time we've been away without Hazel in nearly two years, and i am so looking forward to it!

well, that's about all there is to say, or all i have time for. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This will be a test to see if anyone but Shortney reads my blog anymore. Haha. 

The summer is half over already. I feel as of it should just be getting started though. Margaret spent the first half of it working as a nanny for our friends Ben and Robyn and living at ther house at Mueller Austin near our old neighborhood. She did swim team with her old Patterson Piranha team, which she loved. She was able to ride over on a bike to Patterson from B & R's house every night. Swim team a d her nanny gig finished up last Saturday, so she's home for the rest of the summer. We all missed her a lot. It was a taste of what it will be like when she leaves home for college. 

The kids spent some time with each set of grandparents a week or so ago: half a week with one set and the other half with the other set. I think they have fun, but I was so ready for all of them to come home! Hazel was, too.

We had cousin camp for the past week. Eight kids in the house for a week, and nine for one day and night when Tommy joined the pack. It really wasn't too hard at all. The only challenge was trying to keep food on the table and in the pantry. We even managed to get all of them to the early service last Sunday. Our much larger house was a real blessing when hosting the gang. Everyone could spread out and still have room to spare. There was constant motion. There was always a group playing basketball or soccer. Or walking to the park. Or swimming. Or playing store. Or running through the woods behind our house. Or riding bikes up and down the street. Or playing restaurant in the kitchen.
I think everyone had a great time and made some wonderful memories.

For the last month we've been getting used to the idea of six Wells kids. Yes, we are expecting another, the final edition in February. I'm feeling good and looking forward to my first OB appointment this morning with Dr. Love. The big kids are thrilled and I'm sure Hazel will be, too. She's so mothering. It will be beyond her wildest dreams to have a real live baby to care for! It will be weird to have a newborn and a high school freshman! I her these things keep you young. I hope so, because I've felt pretty old and tired the last few weeks.
So there's the latest news. Hopefully I will get around to blogging again soon.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Just a quick post this morning before i hit the ground running.

yesterday the boys and Hazel and i went hiking on one of the Steiner trails. it was beautiful! water was flowing in the creeks and the colors were so vibrant, as they are after a rain and on an overcast day. afterwards i took them to P. Terry's in Lakeway for milkshakes, and then on to Bee Caves to join their library. the library in Bee Caves is located in the Galleria, a beautiful outdoors mall. its a snazzy library, even if it isn't that big. we've kinda been spoiled with the downtown Austin library that has every book ever written. just about. so we each got cards and found some books. we had to make quick work of it because Hazel was signing at the top of her lungs and William and John were fighting over a Calvin and Hobbes.

i'm still getting adjusted to living on the west side. we were so immersed in our life on the eastisde, and it's such a culture shock to relocate over here. for those unfamiliar with Austin, the eastside has traditionally been the "bad" side of town, full of drugs and gangs and crime. it's been predominantly Black, and then Hispanic. but times are a changing. Gentrification is driving out a lot of long time residents and people with more money are moving in to the old houses and fixing them up. close-in eastside is now an eclectic mix of artists, musicians, lawyers, doctors, social workers, UT students, as well as professors and employees, people working in the film industry, day laborers, Mexicans "just passing through", and retirees. The sidewalks are full of people waiting for the buses, there are taco trucks, homeless, hippies, hipsters, people on bikes, people on scooters, people in electric cars. the stores are full of people. all types. Over here on the west side you see mostly white folks with a sprinkling of Asians and Indians. the cars are all new, Acura, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Infinity...I feel rather low class driving a new Suburban. Even stores like Target and HEB are swankier. Everyone is moving at a slower pace, women in their workout attire carrying Starbucks and their stylish reusable shopping bags. everyone is smiling, happy to be the 1% maybe?

anyways, as i said, it's been a bit of a culture shock for these two simple folk who aren't of the upwardly mobile stock. but we're making friends and learning where we fit in. learning to mind our manners and not appear too much like hicks.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

gonna try to get back into blogging now that we have a new home computer. trying to create blog posts on the ipad or on our lazy laptops just wasn't cutting it.

summer is almost here for Margaret and Samuel. they've been such troopers this last month, getting up early to ride in to town with Brian, hanging around until he gets off work, getting home late. they are really going to enjoy the downtime.

the holiday weekend was a full one. i made three large cakes: a wedding cake, a grooms cake, and a birthday cake. mama came and stayed thursday through saturday to help me out. we had fun running errands, decorating the house, talking while i baked, and going for walks. after church on sunday we had a birthday party for William and John. it was our first party since we moved and it was so very nice to have all the extra room! the cousins stayed the night. its so sweet to watch how they all interact. there is such a special bond amongst them. they are each other's closest friends.

after the cousins went home, we loaded up some floats and the canoe and went over to Lake Travis, really just a five minute drive from Steiner Ranch. we went to Mansfield Dam Park, a park Brian helped design. its always cool to see projects that he has worked on and get an idea of what he does all day.

I've got a full day ahead of me. my childhood best friend's mom is retiring from teaching after 30+ years and the younger set and i are going to the party this afternoon. I've also promised the boys a trip to the pool, then there's laundry to do, house to clean, exercise to get, and grocery shopping to get done. so blessed to have so many people to love that give me so many tasks to do!

Friday, May 17, 2013

We're here in Steiner Ranch now. We still have that feeling as if we're on vacation and soon we'll have to pack up and head home. The neighborhood is lovely, as are the handful of neighbors we've met. There are more than enough opportunities for physical activity: dozens and dozens of the prettiest hiking trails, three swimming pools, bike lanes and side walks, lots of playgrounds. And the lakes.
I have just about everything unpacked and it looks like home. It's amazing how our stuff looks just right here even though our other house was a lot smaller and of a completely different style.

Last night we had our first dinner guests - Brian's parents. It was for a belated Mother's Day celebration. We grilled burgers and I made a four layer fudge cake covered in cream cheese frosting and fondant. We ate out in the backyard and it felt like camping.

It's been a bit of a shock to the system to move from east Austin to an upscale neighborhood as Steiner. Every body drives new, fancy cars and all the women are perfect and wear workout clothes all day. The kids wear clean clothes and have manicured toes. I'm sure we'll have the reputation of being The Hippie Family before too long. My kids go barefoot everywhere, get dirty a don't care, play dress up in the front yard, and ride their bikes without helmets.

I'm loving the super nice grocery stores where they're always handing out sushi, wine, and chef prepared foods. I've always loved grocery shopping, but now I do even more.

Margaret and Samuel have been real troopers. Every afternoon when they get out of school, they either walk to the Y downtown or to a library, and do their homework until Brian gets off work.mThey sometimes stop in at a grocery store along their route and buy each other snacks. I think they'll have some good memories to look back on of this time. They've become the best of friends! They've also grown up a lot this year, starting a new school together mid-year, riding the bus across town and back, and now walking around downtown together.

I'll post pics of the house as soon as I have a chance. Right now I'm off to get the kiddies ready for school.

Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday again. I like Mondays: fresh start, order, routine, work to do. Margaret and Samuel are off to the bus stop, and William, Hazel, and John are getting started with their day. We're planning to go help some friends pack for their move this week, but first there's school work to do. We're getting close to being done for the year, which is hard to believe. It's been such a weird year. We started out with such promise. We were doing so many fun things, tackling some challenging subjects, and having such long, full days. That lasted abut two months before the bottom fell out and I couldn't go on. It was just way more than I could handle. The full education I wanted for my kids was beyond me to provide. Then there was a month or two of no school and me going through depression. Then the answer to prayer: Margaret and Samuel being admitted into O. Henry at the time when we needed it most. The second half of the school year hasn't been a walk in the park, but it has been so much better for our family. Margaret and Samuel have thrived at O. Henry this semester and William and John have enjoyed having more attention from me. I'm not certain what we'll do for all the kids next year. Margaret will start high school and Samuel will be a seventh grader at the neighborhood middle school. William really, really wants to start 6th grade at the middle school, even though we've talked about holding him back. He thrives off of competition and challenge so he might do alright. We had talked about keeping John at home, but with his apparent dyslexia and Brian and I feeling at a loss as to how to work with him. I'm thinking it might be best for him to go to the neighborhood school. They have a dyslexia specialist and a very comprehensive program to work with children with the disability. As much as I would love to keep John at home for a couple of more years, I think it might be in his best interest to send him off to school.

Brian's mom came Thursday and stayed the night. She went to Margaret's track meet with us and we shivered together at the Murchison track while waiting for Margaret's events to come up. She finished middle of the pack in the 800, and got second place in the 1600.

I took a run Friday morning, and the spring weather was so delicious I could've eaten it! We went out to the new house later that morning for the inspection. Linda (Brian's mom) loved the house. William, John, and Hazel ran up and down stairs and round the yard making themselves at home at the new place. The inspection went well. There were only minor problems, nothing like the inspection on the Ridgemont house.

The kids ran the Dillo Mile Saturday morning. Margaret won first place in her division with a time of 6:30. Samuel also won first place in his division with a time of 5:49. William dropped out half way through the mile with breathing issues. Poor guy! He so wants to prove that he's as good as Samuel, but he's just such a different person. For one, he has horrible allergies, he's smaller, and he's just made different and has different gifts and abilities that Samuel doesn't have. John ran a 7:37 mile, finishing 7th or 8th in his age group.

The plumbers have been here for the last several days tearing up our house and yard. They tunneled under the slab from the front of the house to the back, and jack hammered the den floor all the way across. Crazy!

Yesterday after church we went out to Commons Ford Ranch and met Thomas and his kids. We took the canoe and the kids paddled up and down some of the fingers off of Lake Austin. We had an appointment to meet our realtor out at the new house to discuss the inspection report, so Margaret and Brian paddled the canoe from Commons Ford up to Steiner Ranch. The kids and I drove out and met them to load the canoe. Oh my goodness, I think we're going to love living out by both lakes and being able to pop the canoe in whenever we want! While we were out at the house we met some of the neighbors. They were super nice! Margaret, John, and I checked out the trail behind our new house. There's a canyon and a little stream at the bottom. We're all very excited about it all! At 3100 square feet, the house is a modest house for Steiner ranch, but to us it feels like a mansion.

Well, that's all the news for today. Off to help my friend Lisal pack up her house. Below are some of the latest pics.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We had such a nice Holy Week. Redeemer had midday services all week. I had intended to go to all of them, but only made it to two since the didn't offer nursery care and Hazel has become such a handful anytime we're somewhere where she's expected to be quiet. There was the usual Maundy Thursday feast as well. The church really goes all out for that one. The deacons a d elders waited the tables, so Brian didn't get to sit with us, a d Margaret was away at a track meet across town. The boys, Hazel, and I sat with some sweet ladies and had a wonderful time.

Roger brought Claire, Thomas, and Patrick over early Friday morning, and my friend Karen and her crew followed us out to my grandmother's place in Blanco. I hadn't been out there is ages. She has a new baby horse, "Prebble", named after her grandmother Prebble Annette. We took lunch and all ten kids, three grown ups, and three dogs crowded onto her porch to dine on sandwiches, Doritos, and generic Oreos.

The Winn kids ended up staying the night with us. We grilled burgers, burned lots of wood in the chiminea, and just enjoyed quality good cousin time. The cousins are more like siblings. When they get together they have such vivid imaginations and create the most amazing games!

William and Samuel helped their Sunday school class host an Easter egg hunt for the neighborhood kids on Saturday morning. After they were done, we took all the kiddos out to Burnet for an Easter celebration with my mom and stepdad and others. Thomas brought his people and the cousin crew was complete. We had lunch, sang, read some scripture, and did an egg hunt. It was rather rushed, but even so, good memories were made.

We got everyone up and out early on Easter morning and went over to mueller for our own little sunrise service. We sang a few songs, read a passage of scripture, and prayed. It's the beginning of a beautiful tradition, I hope.

We went to the the later church service and then met Brian's parents for lunch. After lunch we drove out to my uncle Gene's place at Mustang Ridge for the Evans' Easter. Of our people it was just us, Daddy, and Thomas. I don't know where Leah was, but her kids were with Roger, and Meredith had Thomas' kids. After we got home, Margaret, Samuel, Brian, and I went for a long run. It was a good way to end a busy holiday weekend.

Our buyers option period ended at midnight Saturday, so all weekend Brian and I were on edge waiting to hear of we'd come to agreement on the contract. It ended up going down to the wire, but with three hours left, they signed the contract! We will fix the under slab plumbing leak and contribute half for reroofing the carport. Even so, we'll still make 10k more than our asking price, so we feel pretty good about it all. Closing is in two weeks. In the meantime, we will be waiting to jump on any new listing to pop up in Steiner Ranch. We are going out to look at a place this morning that we both love (from the pics). Yes, it's a new house and doesn't have a lot of charm, but it's big and backs up to the greenbelt, which would be our dream. It's also within walking distance to the elementary and middle school, as well as the park and pool.

Here's the listing.

We're hoping and praying that it works out.

I guess that's all the news to report.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It comes up every month or so that the kids have been in public school: the need to justify our education decisions. Why must I prove to someone else why what I chose is best for MY children? Why must someone else prove that their choice for THEIR is better than mine? This is such a sensitive issue. It is especially touchy in my church full of affluent, highly educated parents who either have the money to send their children to one if the best private schools in the country, or who a capable of homeschooling, especially in the upper grades.
I am just growing weary of all my homeschooling friends constantly trying to prove that their education choice is the best, especially on Facebook where they don't have to look their friends in the face and tell them that what they're doing (in sending their children to public school) lazy, irresponsible, sinful, and is going to cause their children to lose their salvation. They wouldn't dare say this to their friends' faces, but hide behind blog links and newspaper columns. Why must they prove to me and everyone else that their to homeschool their children is best of all? Just because its best for them does not necessarily mean that it's best for all families. Have they been in my home, walked beside me day in and day out? Do they know my capabilities, my weaknesses? My children's capabilities and weaknesses? No. So why do they think they know what's best for my family? Let them prayerfully choose what is best for their family and leave me and my family to do the same.

End of my rant.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I feels like a huge weight has been removed from our shoulders. We've sold our house! Well, almost. We're under contract and the inspector comes Monday. The house went on the MLS around midnight Friday. We had about twenty showings between saturday and Sunday, and five offers. Or realtor came over Sunday night and we hammered out the details of the contract until a out 10:30. We were offered 20K more than our asking price by two different people! We were just blown away by the speed at which everything happened! We are also amazed at God's provision for us. We bought the house for $145K ten years ago and are selling it for $335K!

This house has been Brian and my pet project. We have put so much blood, sweat, and tears (ok, maybe not tears, yet, but those will come when we walk out the door for the last time) into this home. It had been our dream to have an old house we could fix up, and this was the oldest one we could afford in Austin at the time. It has been so much fun! Where were going we won't have the same opportunity. The houses are new, lack character, and won't need major renovating, but I think it will be good for our family. We can spend our weekends playing together instead of working around the house all the time.

Margaret and Samuel went back to school yesterday. I think they enjoyed their spring break even though we didn't do a whole lot. They spent part of it with Brian's parents and part with my mom while Brian and I worked to get the house up for sale. We will owe them some kind if camping trip or some other fun.

Margaret has her first track meet on Thursday. She's running the mile and half mile, I believe, as well as doing the long jump.

Hazel has her fifteen month well check today, although she's really sixteen months old now. When you're not following a vaccination chart you forget to go in for those well checks.

I guess that's all I have time for right now. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, March 15, 2013

We have a listing!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Break is here! We aren't asking a trip this year, just hanging around here and working on getting the house ready to list this Friday. The photographer comes Thursday and the house gets listed Friday. Between now and then we have a pretty long list of little jobs that need to be done. We made a lot if progress over the weekend. The boys spent the weekend with my mom and Margaret stayed with us to help with Hazel. We've never really had time with just the two girls. How quiet and peaceful everything seemed!
Yesterday after church we met our realtor in Steiner Ranch to look at three houses. We liked one in particular. We can't put an offer until after we've listed ours, so maybe it'll still be around next weekend. Things in Austin are selling like hotcakes, often with competing offers and offers above the asking price. I sure hope that's the case in the selling of our home!
Margaret and I went for a long run Saturday morning that included a stop in at Central Market for trail mix and a stop at the thrift store. So much fun! She's the best running partner!
I was nodding off to sleep on the couch, streaming an R.C. Sproul broadcast, when the front door opened and I heard several little voices and a couple of big voices. It was the Koplins, the family that Margaret babysits for. They had rented out their house at Mueller for SXSW and in the meantime were house sitting for friends who live a few streets over from us. They stayed and visited a couple of hours. I think it's best when friends drop in unexpectedly. It keeps me from focusing on having everything perfect and instead concentrating on my guests. A d things were far from perfect yesterday, paint cans and drop cloths spread all over the living room, a stinky kitchen trash, dirty dishes in the sink, and me with smeared eye makeup from napping. I love the Koplin family, and they love Margaret. They even want her to come live with them for part of the summer after we move. Not that we will be that far away, just too far for her to walk or ride over for a daily babysitting gig. They are so trusting of her, it's really an honor. They starting hiring her to babysit when she was eleven.
Well, gonna have to cut this short to get my little people moving. Have a blessed Monday!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Brian and I just got home from hearing Sinclair Ferguson at church. He was speaking to Redeemer Seminary on John Calvin and the work of the Holy Spirit. It was good, a message I needed to hear. I've been struggling to understand the Holy Spirit. Ad it was nice to get out with Brian for an hour or so.

We've been plugging away at school. William and John are doing well, especially in math, despite my best efforts to confuse them. Haha. We took a picnic lunch to the park and enjoyed several hours out in the sun today, plus a two mile walk. We've been enjoying a lot of read a loud time lately. That's something I really, really enjoy, reading aloud to the kids.

Hazel is a constant source of entertainment for us. She still doesn't talk, but understand most of the things we tell her or ask her. She is the busiest child and seems to be like Margaret and I in that she loves to clean house. Of course, she also love to make messes, too, but she has really picked up on the cleaning part. She's an old soul, and usually has a serious expression (actually all my kids it john have been that way). She loves to have books read to her, and William is her book buddy. She trusts Margaret and Samuel most of the four, but knows William is a buddy she can go to. Now John, he's a little unpredictable and she has to be on her toes around him, though he does make her laugh. They all think she's wonderful. The other day Samuel said, "I just can't imagine life without Hazel!"

Hazel still nurses several times a day and half the night. She nurses more than she eats solids. I guess that's ok. She seems to be growing alright. I would like for her to start sleeping through the night sooner or later. She goes down in her bed, but wakes up in the night crying every night.
Tomorrow she'll be 16 months! It's hard to believe that William didn't start walking until he was that age! She's been walking since she was 11 months, my earliest walker.

Gonna have to cut this short. It's getting late and 5 am. will be here before I know it.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I was up before five this morning. This is my favorite time of the day and it thrills me to be up before everyone else. Yes, I'm odd. I've never required as much sleep, it seems, as a lot of folks. So I'm up with my coffee and oatmeal, sitting in the dark living room in a quiet house. I love it!

Ever since I had a breakdown (or whatever it was) last October and went through depression and such, I've sorely neglected school. Not that we've stopped doing school work altogether, but I've stopped doing any planning, stopped trying to come up with creative things for us to do, stopped keeping record of anything. We just do a math lesson and a grammar lesson every day and read. We read a lot. But lately I've started feel that my lack of planning and throwing myself into schooling has verged on sin. I've just become lazy towards homeschooling. I've take on the attitude that "I'm only doing this because there isn't another option", and so we just float along, no real goals, no organization, not much discipline.

So after feeling what I believe is the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I have turned a corner and we're (hopefully) headed in a better direction. Every morning this week after we drop Margaret and Samuel off to ride the bus, I've taken the boys out to walk the two and a quarter mile loop. It's been bitter,y cold with the super high winds, but after the first day, they didn't grumble. We've come home and done school work. We've collected wildflower specimens and identified them. We've listened to audio books (Swiss Family Robinson) and read aloud in 101 Dalmatians. We've listened to lots of Scripture reading, and continued memorizing James 1. We worked in our math books and our grammar books, and we even did Mad Libs as part of grammar, just for fun. We had a picnic in the back yard and cooked hot dogs in the chiminea. We made homemade bread, each of the boys making their own loaf from start to finish. So it's been a good week. I feel like I'm being a more responsible parent than I've been in months, and though the boys have enjoyed the laid back days and being able to get on the wii or computer every afternoon for a couple of hours, they seem so happy to have more structure to our days again.

I've been reading Explicit Gospel, which was a Christmas gift from Brian's sister and her husband. Amazing book! I also started reading Band of Brothers. I like to read while I'm on the elliptical at the Y and was able to get in a lot of reading yesterday.

I guess I never blogged about running the Austin marathon a week and a half ago. So glad to have that over with. It was the hardest thing I've struggled through. I was getting over being sick, had I injured my back the week of the race, AND I was dealing with a really bad bout of colitis. I felt miserable. I still can't believe I finished. It seemed like every mile I was just about to call Brian to pick me up. I cried a little when I crossed the finish line.

I went to the gastrointerologist last week and got on some meds which seem to be working. Praise The Lord! I should have gone to see him a long time ago, but I'm really bad about putting things like doctor's appointment off.

We are getting really close to putting the house on the market. Next week, maybe? I'm going to look at houses out in Steiner Ranch tomorrow with our realtor. We've boxed up all our extra stuff so that all we have out are the essentials, which will hopefully make the moving process a little less painful. It's great how roomy and clean the house feels!

Time to get my chicks off to school.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Marathon pics. Yes, I carried Hazel for the last quarter mile.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm hobbling around this morning with an achy back. The last week and a half I've been packing and moving boxes. I don't realize how hard it is on my back until I try to get out of bed the next morning. So we're finally making progress on this move. It's hard to believe that we're finally doing it, finally selling our house. We've talked a out it for so long, but never could bring ourselves to cut ties to the city. We still havent found THE HOUSE, but we have zeroed in on an area and will most likely buy there.
In other news, Brian's fortieth birthday is Thursday. I am so grateful to Hod for blessing him with these forty years, and especially thankful that I've had the privilege of knowing him for half those years. He is a solid, faithful leader of his family. He is gentle and patient, and always sees the best in people. He never shirks his duty. He's generous to a fault (if that's possible), and always takes time for people. He's respected in is field and at church where he serves as a deacon. I feel so honored to be associated with him. I know him better than anyone else and know his faults and struggles, his areas of weakness, but still admire him more than anyone else I know.

I painted two rooms this week, the utility room and the main living/dining room. Still not finished with either, t nearly. Amazingly Hazel didn't get in any of the wet paint.

I've been having a hard time with my colitis lately. I had a bout with it for several months starting right after I had Hazel, then as suddenly as it started, it stopped. It flared up again in October and had been progressively getting worse. The constant bleeding and alternating constipation and diarrhea is really getting old and leaves me feeling both irritable and weary. Its especially been hard for me to push through my marathon training. I have a GI appointment in February right after I run the marathon. I would've liked to get in earlier, but that's the soonest he had an opening.

Last Saturday Brian took William and John to Corpus for an overnight cub scout outing. It was only maybe the third night Brian and I have spent apart in the nearly 16 years we've been married. We survived alright. Margaret had a soccer game. Mama and Brian's parents came to watch, then mama stayed the rest of the weekend with Samuel, Margaret, Hazel, and I. We went to lunch with Thomas and the kids. Meredith also came along. I hadn't spent any time with her since before Christmas. She's still doing her thing: having an affair, but she put on a good face and they all acted like family. Thomas' birthday was on the 23rd. Apparently he was pretty low that day. The whole thing just makes
me sick inside.

In one week four appliances were out: the dryer, the fridge, the oven, and my new blender. We replaced the washer-dryer set with a set from Craigslist for $200. The dryer is like as plain Jane as they come, a very basic Hot Point, but dries like a Cadillac. The washer is a new (less than a year old and still under warranty) Maytag and works great, too. We had the fridge repair man come on Friday and it's so nice to have cold foods after three days of soggy or warm foods. The oven part is on order and hopefully will be here this week. This is the third attempt to
Get the right part, so I've been without an oven for nearly a month. I'm really
missing baking things! Thankfully it didn't go out until after Christmas. Still waiting on my replacement blender to arrive in the mail. I'll be happy to have all my little servants up and running again! Was starting to feel like a opener woman for awhile there.

Margaret and Samuel are doing well at
O. Henry. They ride the bus across town and back most days. They look so grown up going off together. I'm so proud of them and how they've jumped into this new adventure with both feet.

Schooling William and John is going well most days. Today I'm just letting them play outside because mama needs a break. They're making good progress in their math and decent progress in their grammar. I plan to have them each repeat a grade anyways, so whatever they're learning this year is kind of bonus. They're youngish for third and fifth graders, both of their birthdays being at the end of the school year, and they're rather immature for their age (in a good way), so being held back once they integrate back into the classroom will be a positive thing. I hope.

Well, I guess that's all the news. Off to conquer the laundry!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Finally getting time for an update!

Margaret and Samuel survived and thrived their first two weeks of school. Margaret made the A team of the O. Henry soccer team and they won their first game. She's really enjoying the twice-a-week practices and the higher level of talent than what she has been familiar with at the YMCA. She is one of the smallest girls on the team, so she has to play twice as hard to stay in the game. And she does.

The kids have attempted to take the bus every morning, and that's provided all sorts of drama. They've been passed up by the bus, not picked up, got on the wrong bus, and have had one bus driver bring them to our doorstep because he didn't know where their bus stop was. We're hoping it will get better as time goes by. It sure is a help when I can send them off on the bus instead of driving them across town.

School has been going moderately well with the younger boys. John's apparent dyslexia concerns me more and more. I just don't know what to do to help him. I really want to keep him at home until middle school, of possible, but I may not be equipped to handle his needs. William is doing well. His behavior is much better with Samuel away at school during the day. He doesn't feel the need to compete for attention as much.

The ladies' Bible study started back up at Redeemer this past Thursday. We're studying Revelation and it's refreshing to hear it taught from a Preterist or partial Preterist view, though Dr. Campbell does present all views for the sake of comparison. Getting to fellowship with the other women has also been like a cup of cold water to my thirsty soul! I just soak it all up!

I've been trying to keep my running up since the Austin marathon is 4 weeks away. I did a 15 miler last Sunday afternoon and several short runs during the week. I really should try to run something in the neighborhood of 18 miles today or tomorrow. After that, I can probably cut back.

I cut most of my hairs off right after Christmas. Of course now I regret iota and notice that everyone else hashing, beautiful locks. I'm trying to make the best of it, and am still learning how to style it.

We went real estate hunting last Saturday, and I think, at long last we've found a suburban neighborhood that were happy with. We almost put an offer on a house in Steiner Ranch, but they wouldn't take a contingency offer. We're going to try to get our house on the market in the next could of months.

William and Samuel have been playing basketball at the Y since early December and that's provided a fun Friday night activity. John plays on Saturday mornings at the downtown Y. He and his cousin Tommy are on the same team. Crazy enough, John is the superstar player. He's never even been interested in sports before and now here he is making all the baskets for his team! I've enjoyed getting to spend some time with Thomas, both at the practices and the games. I don't know how things are going with him and Meredith. I just don't ask. I saw her once in December, but that was the first time since the summer, and have t seen her since.

I'm trying to find time to read, but that's been challenging. I've been poking my nose into several books lately: The Explicit Gospel, Sacred Marriage, The Prince and the Pauper, and a biography of Abner Cook, a local self taught architect of the nineteenth century.

I guess that's all the snippets of news I have now. Now it's off to the races!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday, January 5

Yesterday was not the best one of my mommy career. Probably not the worst either, but still a disappointment. I get on to my kids about losing control and giving in to their passions, and yet the example I provide is not of someone full of patience, gentleness, and self control. Lord, help me!
We've all been going stir crazy since the weather has been cold and wet for several days. I'm not going to complain since we desperately need the rain. I just need to be a little more creative in my ideas for things to do with the kidlets, I guess. We resort to killing each other when we've been locked up together for too long.
William and Samuel had their basketball game last night. BriAn is their coach, and since they were short some players, John got recruited to play on the team. It was cute seeing all three boys playing together. Samuel is extremely athletic and strong, and a really, really good basketball player. William is small and not as skilled, but plays with such intensity! He tries so hard! He may never be as good as Samuel, but with practice I think he could be a good ball player in middle school. John has surprised is and suddenly turned into an athlete. He's the best player on his team, always then leading scorer in his games. I guess that's what happens when you're used to playing against against your dad and older brothers, and then go and play against 7 and 8 year olds.

I sometimes wonder if we as a family put too much emphasis on sports and exercise. I never played sports as a kid though I was always very athletic. There were not as many options back when I was homeschooled in the dark ages. And sports were considered , at best, a waste of time, and at the worst, worldly and sensual. My family culture now is one of being active, playing games, developing skills. We are off balance in that we haven't emphasized the arts to the same degree. All of kids seem to have inherited some of my artistic ability (that I inherited from my grandmother), but we've done little to hone and develop those talents other than just provide materials for them to use. Margaret has far surpassed me, by the way. She is an incredible artist! And unlike me at that age, she is. It embarrassed to be called an artist. For some reason I hated when people called me an artist when I was a kid. Not sure what I envisioned when I thought of an artist, but i was sure it wasn't the coolest thing in the world. Funny how kids are.
Anyways, I sometimes wonder if we'll look back and wish we'd put some emphasis on music lessons or acting in place of some of these sports. Brian plays guitar, and we both play piano a bit, enough to teach the kids the basics, but there are just so many hours in the day, and they usually get filled up with other activities.
Maybe Hazel will be the one to get the well-rounded education. She'll probably be the one to take ballet and piano lessons, instead of soccer and boxing like her big sis.

I have a long run to do this morning. I haven't been as consistent with running the last week and feel kind of blah.

We're back to house hunting. We Are going to try to keep this house and rent it out and buy another. As much as we've talked smack about the suburbs, I think that's where we'll end up. We just need a bigger place and good schools, and that's where you find both of those things. It is just really hard to try to raise a family in town. Not sure how soon all of his will happen, but we need to be settled in a house before the fall so that Margaret can start high school. Samuel and William will both be middle schoolers next year, so we've been researching all the schools in the area, looking at houses in zones that have good middle and high schools. We're trying to be very discriminatory this time so that we don't get in a situation like we're in now where we can't avail ourselves of the schools in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 9

Two days of school down and we're surviving! They had a great first day. Yesterday was a bit crazy, but I think. we're starting to get the hang of everything. Margaret tried out for and made the soccer team. Her first game is Saturday. They've both made some friends and realized they already know some students from previous schools they've attended or from church. I found myself praying for them off and on both Monday and Tuesday. I know the Lord heard my prayers because their days have been better than expected.

Tuesday is always a hectic day for us. William and John have cub scouts, Margaret has soccer practice, then John had basketball practice, then Samuel has boy scouts. Then homework and showers. Then bed.

We've been getting rain now for an couple of days, glorious rain! It puts a damper on my marathon training, but I'd rather that than us continue in the parched state we've been in so long.

Well, time to get the kiddos off to school.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's another cold morning. Contrary to popular belief, we actually do have cold weather is Texas. It just doesn't stay around for very long. This latest round has hung around longer than I like. A week and a half of not getting to wear shorts when we go out to play is rough. :)
They say we may have snow tomorrow.
The kids and I did a little post-Christmas shopping yesterday. I bought a couple of dish towels, a candle, and a sports bra - woohoo! I have way too many of those. Always looking for the perfect sports bra.
Brian and I had a little planning session at cherrywood coffeehouse last night while Margaret held down the fort. We split some tacos and had some local beers. Cherrywood is always a relaxing place to be. It was especially cozy on a cold night like last night.
We tried to hammer out a plan for the next few months. Brian is an engineer and likes to plan things out. I'm more fly-the-seat-of-my-pants, and generally make things up as I go, so we really are good for each other. Well, he's good for me. Not sure how good I am for him, ha!
Margaret and Samuel start school Monday. If I think too long about Samuel there at O. Henry without us, trying to find his classes and remember to write down assignments and all, I start to have a little panic attack for him. He is not good in new situations, and he breaks down when things get stressful. I worry about him crying in the hallways. But then, he just surprised us and went on a four day boy scout camp out without any family members. And survived, even enjoyed it! They do have on file that he has been diagnosed with ADD and Aspergers and receives the 504 designation because of it, but the other
middle schoolers arent gonna give him a pass because he's 504. Sigh. But it's time. It's time for him and for Margaret to step out and grow up. They've already grown a lot in the last year and a half that we've been homeschooling. I really believe this chance for them to attend O. Henry is an answer to prayer. What a blessing for them to be able to go to the best public middle school in town, even be bussed there! And we didn't have to do anything to make it happen. It was just dropped in our laps!
Michael and Jana gave me the book The Explicit Gospel as a Christmas gift. I've slacked off on reading much since Hazel been walking. I'm really looking forward to exercising my mind a little more now that Christmas has passed. I also ordered a biography of Abner Cook, the self-taught architect and builder who designed several buildings in Austin, including the Governor's Mansion, The Pease Mansion - "Woodlawn", and the Neal-Cochran House. He seems like a really interesting guy. I started The Prince and the Pauper last weekend. I love, love Mark Twain! Also on my night stand: Night by Elie Wiesel, Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, and The Fires of Jubilee by Stephen B. Oates. Oh, and C. S. Lewis by A. N. Wilson. I've had that by my bed for half the year, I think.
Best get out and get my run in. The Austin Marathon is a month and a half away. I should make some attempt to train for it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I've been doing this for the past several
years. It's that time again!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before? Registered two kids for middle school. Choice sheets and electives were things I was unfamiliar with up to this point. Looking forward to whats ahead on this new adventure for Margaret and Samuel.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can't recall whether I made any, or if I did, whether I kept them. I think that means I need to write them down as well as make goals and resolutions that are measurable. This year I aim to read through the Bible using R.M. Mc'Cheyne's reading plan, which will have me reading the NT, Psalms, and Proverbs twice and the rest of the Bible once. I have other thoughts, ideas on goals, but have nailed them down yet. Like I'd like to make more time to be artsy, and I'd like to run the Marathon for Adoption, and I'd like to read plenty of books, and maybe get back to trying toward some Spanish.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My sister in law, Jana.

4. Did anyone close to you die? yes, my grandfather's wife, Karen, in April. Also, a couple of people in our church.

5. What countries did you visit? none. I only left Texas once this year when we went to Oklahoma for a summer vacation with Brian's family.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? A larger house. Good schools for my children. Better control over my passions.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Um, maybe October 11th, because that was Brian and my 15th anniversary.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finishing out a year of homeschooling in which I birthed and cared for a baby and juggled four grades and did it pretty well. Sadly things went down hill about two months into this school year, which incidentally, was around the time hazel started walking.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not being able to finish out the year homeschooling all the kids. That makes
me sad since we started with so much promise.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Just a couple of colitis flare ups.

11. What was the best thing you bought? iPhone and iPad? A new car? Food?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Hmmm. Not sure.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Not gonna lie, my sister-in-law's.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, mortgage, church, kids' sports, gas, Margaret's teeth.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My in laws moving to New Braunfels!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012? Willie Nelson's "Breathe."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? I'd say sadder, but not without hope. Last year (2011) was the best year of my life. It was hard to top it. Being pregnant and all those good hormones. Then 2012 came around and the hormone shift and a mobile baby, difficulties with homeschooling, was a more trying year than the one before.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Create, read, pray, talk with friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Exercise (yes, less!) , dilly dally on the Internet, argue with Brian about stupid stuff, speak impatiently, unkindly to my children.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We stretched it out over several weekends. We were at home Christmas morning, then went to Daddy's house where he hosted the Evans family Christmas dinner. We came home and watched White Christmas that night.

21. How did you spend New Years?
We were at Brian's parent's house in New Braunfels with Brian's sister and her husband and baby. We watched football and talked. On New Year's Day we went to lunch in Gruene, then hugged the family bye, and came home to unpack all our Christmas treasures.

22. What was your favorite tv program? I think the only one I watched was American Idol.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? no.

24. What was the best book you read? I can't remember.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? not real sure. Avett Bros., maybe.

26. What did you want and got? a new grill! a new car.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I didn't see any. We're just not much into movies, tv.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 37. Went shopping with my mom, then out to dinner with my extended family.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If I had walked by the spirit more and less by the flesh.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? I don't know. Casual for sure. I don't know if there's a name for it, but I spent most my time in jeans ( or cut off jeans) and t shirts or feminine blouses, and boots or Van's. Earthy chic, maybe? Sadly I had no occasions for dressing up this year.

31. What kept you sane? The Word!

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? none

33. What political issue stirred you the most? none

34. Who did you miss? My friend, Andrea.

35. Who was the best new person you met? I met several new people at church, and I grew close to some old acquaintances whom I'd known for a long time.

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2012:

Pray about everything! Had so many prayers (big and little) answered this year.
I will not die if I go to bed when the house is still a mess.
I don't have to do it all. I don't have to be it all.
Rest is a good thing.
God is creating a beautiful tapestry of my life. The yellows, and reds, blues, greens, grays, and black all woven together make a work of art of His design. I can rest in the knowledge that He knows what He's doing.