Winding down and moving up!

Monday, May 18, 2015
This time of year is so busy with end of year activities and it is even busier when people are graduating or getting ready to change schools (dances, parties, field days, awards and promotion ceremonies). So, this post is all over the place but  it's a re-cap of some of our end of year activities so far.

Well, here we are and Harry will be finished middle school next week.  I am SO GLAD!  I don't usually wish away years or phases. Typically,  I try to enjoy each stage of parenting as it comes my way.  But I will say that having gone through it twice, I think middle school can be really rough.  Harry was plagued with stress and migraines in 6th grade and it was such a hard year for us.  He even transferred schools in October of 6th grade.  There were days that I was not sure we would make it.

But he did.  He managed to get through with straight A's even though he missed a ton of school due to illness in 6th and 7th grades.  He also took the most advanced classes available.  He played three years of lacrosse and was a real leader on and off the field.  And he was a good friend to others. He was also in the National Junior Honor Society. And finally,  I have loved working in the school store with him every Wednesday morning for the past 3 years.

This past weekend was the 8th grade dance.  Harry is not one who usually likes things like this but he had fun with his friends.  They are all going to different high schools so this was bittersweet.



And I took these pictures before the dance....



I am really thrilled that all three of our kids are well rounded and involved kids.  But, it makes it extra hard this time of year to get to all of their events/recitals/games.  Dave and I often have to divide and conquer (as most parents do). And sometimes we don't make it to everything.

Will just finished up water polo season and I am very proud of him.  He was really a leader on his team this year and one of the captains.  He has made so much progress in the last few years.  Often his games are at the time of day when I am picking up Kate from school or driving gymnastics carpool.  Often they are very far away too.  So between gymnastics, violin and lacrosse, I did not make as many of Will's water polo games this season as I would have liked to.  I am going to work really hard next year to get to more of them.  I really like watching him play.


Love this shot of Will about to score.  
He played really well this weekend and was happy to see us all there cheering him on.


I  think their teams took 2nd and 3rd in the championship tournament.

Kate had her violin recital a few weeks ago and it was awesome.  I cannot believe how far she has come. She trains 16 hours a week in the gym every single week for her gymnastics team now. So with homework, there is not a lot of time left for violin.  Her teacher schedules her group lesson for Kate's day off from the gym and Kate has the drive and determination to stick with it.  I am not sure how much longer she will be able to do that.




I did not video the recital because I just wanted to watch and for her to see my smiling face NOT the back of a phone.  But I did ask her to play a little Ode to Joy before the concert.  I posted it here on Instagram.

And Harry had his last regular season lacrosse game. It rained so I did not get a chance to take many photos.



That is Harry front and center #18.

Finally, Will had his Junior Ring and Cross Mass.


Kate could not go because it was her last CCE class before First Holy Communion.

We love Father Bravo.  He has been an awesome mentor to Will the past few years.  We are sad he is leaving Jesuit this year for an assignment in Puerto Rico.


Will has an awesome group of friends at his high school.

They are all really fabulous. accomplished, good guys.  I feel blessed that they are his friends.




Although his friends all ordered a high school ring, Will decided not to get one.  He LOVES his school but he did not think he'd ever wear the ring.  And he is probably right.  I am glad he was practical about it because none of his friends have worn their rings since they got them.

But they all got a beautiful handmade wood cross that they hang from their car mirror (his friend is holding the cross two photos up).  And they officially became seniors along with the privileges (going off campus for lunch).  It was a beautiful Mass and I teared up quite a few times thinking about his senior year and graduation.

I think I need a nap now;)  This week, we have Harry's powder puff lax game and field day, a field trip for Kate, her end of year gymnastics party and some award ceremonies.  I am looking forward to summer!

first holy communion {part one}

Saturday, May 16, 2015
I know it will be excessive.  I am sure I will do about 3 posts on Kate's communion.  When Will and Harry made their first holy communion it was extremely special.  They both made theirs on Mother's Day weekend also and we celebrated with family. We lived in VA when Will made his and I was not blogging then so I don't have a post about it at all which makes me sad.  I do have some photos somewhere (it was before digital).

Anyway, as my kids get older, I kind of cling to each milestone a little bit more.  When I think about all the "lasts" it makes me super nostalgic.  For example, tonight is Harry's 8th grade dance and while I know it is not a huge deal, I find myself think him about his childhood a lot today.

So, with Kate's communion approaching, I asked my friend Shelly if she would do some portraits with Kate before the actual day. I really wanted the day of the communion to be about receiving Christ.  I did not want to be thinking about capturing the moment in photos.  I wanted to be present. I am SO glad we did this.  The boys would have never agreed to a photo shoot at this age but Kate was excited and cooperative.  It was perfect.

I want to share how Kate chose her dress so I will remember. For about a year or two I had been pinning dresses onto my Pinterest board as I saw them.  Just after Christmas, I showed Kate the board (which easily had 100 dresses on it) and she immediately pointed to this dress and said, "I like that one. That is the one."  I tried to show her others and persuade her a bit toward one I liked more.  But she was steadfast.  She LOVED this dress and thought is was perfect.  I had my doubts because a) no one in Texas carried the dress, b) it was more than we wanted to spend and c) there was one I liked more.

However, this was her day and I wanted her to love her dress.  So, I called around and found ONE dress in the entire country in her size. Even the designer was sold out in her size. And I happened to have a big pile of clothes that Kate had outgrown just waiting to sell. I put them on-line and they sold immediately paying for the dress.  It was win-win.

Ironically, I found the dress in PA from a shop where I probably got my communion dress growing up and they were so helpful.  When it arrived, it was even more beautiful in person and it fit her perfectly. I was very nervous about the fit because Kate is almost 9 but she measured a size 6. I had a hard time believing it would fit and I was so relieved when that dress fit her.  I should have trusted Kate all along because this dress was just absolutely perfect for her.  She felt beautiful and special in it.

A few days after Easter, we got Kate all dolled up and Shelly and I took her around on a 2 hour photo shoot.  It was a lot of fun.  In this post I am going to share some of the shots I took with my camera.  Then, I am going to share Shelly's (which are so much better-she's a photographer!) and then finally I am going to re-cap the actual communion day.

I snapped some pictures while we were waiting for Shelly to arrive....


{I know this one shot is totally over-exposed but I like the dreamy quality anyway}


And just to keep it real~Kate was laughing and goofing around but teasing me for taking photos of her waiting for Shelly at the window....




You can really see the detail in her dress in this one above. You can kind of also see a bruise on her forehead above her left eye.  The week before, Kate fell right on her head doing a one handed cartwheel with her hand full of a water bottle, snack and sock as we were leaving for the gym.  She came down HARD on our wood floors and had a gigantic goose-egg and bruise for a few days.











I bought Kate a little Mass book and she is obsessed with it.
 She wanted to read it though the whole photo shoot:)


I will post part 2 in a few days.  Have a great weekend!

Prom 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015
To say it was a busy weekend would be an understatement.  Friday night was Will's prom.  I was supposed to host the pre-prom dinner for 12 kids and all the parents.  And we were going to do photos at our house and the park nearby.  We were really looking forward to that.

However,  Will's group of best friends are all on the varsity baseball team. Will is not on the baseball team.  He plays water polo.  Anyway, the baseball players had a playoff game on prom night.  So, Will and his date were solo for the pre-prom activities.  I know they were disappointed initially but they ended up going to a very nice restaurant and then meeting up with their friends at the prom.  Then they had a short after party at another one of our friends' houses.  But due to another baseball game the following day, they were all home by 12:45!  I was glad about that since the next morning was Kate's first holy communion.


We were thrilled that my Mom flew in from PA to be with us this weekend for Will's prom, Kate's Communion and Mother's Day!

She is very proud of her grandchildren and they were so happy to have here here.


Dave and Will goofing around.


Kate and Will goofing around!


And Elizabeth arrives...


Elizabeth is beautiful inside and out.

This one cracks me up.  It's like Will is thinking "Please don't stab me!"



The Moms.


Elizabeth and her Mom.



One quick one with little sis before we head to the park...






Will said they had an awesome time at Prom.  He had lots of fun candids from the photo booth.  

Around here

Saturday, April 18, 2015
This post is one of those all over the place random updates of life in our house right now and it is long.  But these are little things that I want to remember...

I am not one to typically binge watch TV at all.  I don't have big blocks of time between work and home life.  However, last week my sister told me about this show called Married at First Sight.  Four experts look at extensive data and match three couples.  The first time they meet is at their wedding.  They have a wedding, a reception,  honeymoon, move in together and try to make it work. It is absolutely fascinating.

MAFS Cover

I have had my PhD in marriage and family communication for 22 years.  I taught for many years at the college level on gender and communication, relational communication, marriage and family.  Now, I am in private practice helping engaged and married couples navigate the challenges of their relationships.  So, this show is made for me.  I LOVE it.  Season 2 is currently airing but I loved it so much I bought Season 1 on Amazon to watch (Married at First Sight Season 1).  And I watched almost the whole season this week in every spare second I had.

I seriously cannot recommend this show enough if you like relationships like I do.  I absolutely LOVE my job.  I love helping people figure out how to be better partners to one another and this show hi-lights the ups and downs that we all have in marriage.  It focuses on the most important thing though...the commitment to keep doing the WORK.  I see that over and over in my office.  The couples who do the work, make it.  The couples who don't are miserable.  I have said it a million times on this blog but Love is a decision and an action every single day.  And it is interesting to watch that play out on this docu-series as well.


Now I am watching Married at First- The First Year.  These episodes follow the couples from the 6 month though 1 year phase for the couples that stayed together.  It is on demand in some places.

My work is really good.  I try to maintain a pretty small practice so that I can still have time to exercise, meet a friend for lunch once in a while and be involved at the kids' schools.  But it is so hard to find that perfect balance.  Some weeks, I have just a few clients and some weeks I am crazy busy (like this week).  I am really trying to work more because I love it so much but juggling everything part time can be stressful at times.  As many of you know, you often end up feeling like you aren't doing anything as well as you'd like to.  And every time I meet with clients, I am reminded of ways that I can be a better Mom and wife too (which is a good thing).  If you need marriage/parenting/life coaching, feel free to reach out to me (  I do phone or Skype appointments if you are not in the Houston area.

Will is taking he ACT again today.  It will be the last time he takes it.  He already has a great score but he wanted to take it one more time just to see if he could get another point or two for scholarships. This summer he will take a workshop for writing his college essays and in the Fall he will apply to the colleges of his choice.  I really cannot believe we are at this point in life with him.  The other day, we got the tuition bill for his senior year and there was a cap and gown/gradutaion fee!  I admit that I teared up when I read that.  He turns 18 in June.  My first born son becomes a legal adult.  I know people say it all the time but it really has gone by so fast. I am SO proud of the man he is becoming.

I know a lot of young women without kids or Moms with very young kids read this blog.  Cherish the moments at each and every stage of childhood because they are so fleeting.  Even the tough stages will be ones you look back at with a smile, I promise.

Kate is getting ready to make her first holy communion and she is SO excited.  She really embraces her faith and takes it quite seriously.  A few weeks ago in Sunday school, she learned about Saint Maximilian Kolbe.  He was a Polish man who became a Franciscan priest and gave his life for another man in a Auschwitz.  Kate became so fascinated with his life.  So, when she had to pick an important figure in history to do a report about, she chose him.  Kate attends a public school so her classmates are researching figures like Abe Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Harriet Tubman etc.  But Kate really wanted to do her report on this not very well known Saint (Mother Theresa was her second choice).  I am so grateful for a loving teacher who is encouraging Kate to follow her heart and her faith.  The biography we are reading (together) is WAY above her level of comprehension.  Heck, it is difficult for me and Dave in some parts. But she is really committed to learning as much she can about this incredible Christian man.


When I thanked Kate's teacher for being supportive she said she was not surprised at all that Kate chose a Saint.  She said, "Kate is so Catholic. I see it in her everyday the way she acts, they way she answers questions, the way she got so excited when we learned about Mother Theresa."  Her comment made my heart leap with joy because to me your faith is not something you simply believe but it is the way you act toward others.

One more little update on Katie Ru.  This girl is obsessed with crafting.  She makes these little boxes out of cardstock.  I wish I had photos of some of the more unique ones she has made.  In her spare time, she looks up knitting patterns and these box patterns and she crafts and crafts and crafts. She will literally spend an entire Saturday making stuff.  All she wants for her birthday is crafting supplies:) I love the coupons at Hobby Lobby and Michaels:)




Harry is finishing up 8th grade!  He has about a month left of middle school and then graduation.  YEAH!  So far, I think the middle school years are the toughest years of growing up. It is such a difficult time for kids and their parents. Sixth grade was incredibly difficult for Harry (and me) and you could not pay me all the money in the world to do middle school again right now (glad Kate has a few years!)  This year has been great though and I know he has mixed feeling about starting all over at a new school.  I think he is nervous yet excited.  Harry is finishing middle school with straight A's and straight E's for all three years!  And he has taken several advanced classes.  This year he has 10th grade geometry (in 8th grade) and high school Spanish and Journalism.  If he were going to public school, he would be entering with 5-6 high school credits already.

This week he finishes up his lacrosse season at his school too.  He has been a key player all three years. The lacrosse program had lapsed at his middle school and a Dad got it going again 3 years ago--  just as Harry entered middle school. Harry stepped in and started as a team captain and he has been a captain all 3 years.  He is hoping to play high school lacrosse too.  

Also, I am not sure if you noticed but Harry and a HUGE growth spurt (easter pics here).  Harry has always been below the 5th percentile in height and weight and he has had health issues too~ I mean his WHOLE life.  Some years he was not even on the charts.  At his check up a few weeks ago, he was in the 11t percentile for weight and the 13th percentile for height.  That is HUGE for him.  His pediatrician (the one who was there on the day he was born) was so happy.  And so were we.

For the last 3 years, Harry and I have volunteered in the school store every Wednesday morning at his middle school  It was an awesome experience. And it is something that just he and I shared.  I cannot put into words how much I am going to miss those Wednesday mornings with him (and the other Mom and son we have worked with for the last year and half).  I am going to get a photo of us together in the next week or two of us in the school store because I really want to always remember those times.

Of course, I don't have photos of the boys because truth be told, they are rarely around these days.  They're always off with friends (which I guess is good).

Okay, that is my long update about me and the peanuts.    I also want to share a discount code with y'all.  I got an email that it is friends and family weekend at Loft.

I have my eye on these...


And finally, don't forget about the Lilly Pulitzer launch tomorrow at Target!  Everything looks so cute!  You can actually heart or favorite things and then when the sales launches and midnight or 1 am you can check out faster.  Click below to see the whole collection and heart items.

I have my expectations set very low because I think it is all going to sell out quickly.