Dreaming of a bungalow/cottage…the guest room.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I know that I have written of our wish to downsize before.  Every time Dave and I talk about this people try to talk us out of it…telling us we need our space with teens.  Well, the fact of the matter is Will goes off to college in a year and Harry will be gone 3 years after that.  Also, I don't really think we need as much space as we have.  I think we will be fine with less. I actually crave less stuff and less space. I am also craving a creative design project.

If the perfect cottage/bunglaow came up in our neighborhood we would grab it.  But they never come for sale or builders buy them and tear them down.  So, we are looking in surrounding neighborhoods with the intent to rent the house out for about 3-4 years and then remodel it to suit our needs.

Currently, I feel frustrated because I love remodeling/designing/building.  Before I ever blogged, Dave and I bought an old home in a fabulous neighborhood and we gutted and designed a new kitchen.  This was 14-15 years ago (I was pregnant with Harry:). It was stressful but I loved the creative process.

Then, we built our house in Virginia.  These were the pre-pinterest days and I had an artists sketchbook full of ideas and photos of what I wanted in that house. I had been collecting those images and ideas for years.  I took them to the architect and challenged him to design the house.  He did and it was a fabulous house.  I loved choosing all of the details for that house.

The market in Houston is tough.  Things go quickly so we have missed out on some opportunities.

So, I am going to get my creative urges out here through the blog and pinterest.  I've done it before but I intend to go room by room fantasizing about my dream home.  I want fewer room but not small rooms. We have giant hallways in our current home.  They are beautiful but they are completely wasted space.  Kate does have her balance beam set up in one hallway;)

Today I will start with what I will call the guest room.  In all likelihood our next house will be a 3 bedroom that we move into when both boys are in college so it will be their room when they come home for summer/Christmas breaks or a guest room when they are gone. Therefore, it makes sense to me to have two twin beds.



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I like that this has both masculine and feminine touches.
But it might be a little too feminine for the boys.


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I like this simple masculine look above.  I think I'd use much more streamlined sconces though.
The cords and wires bother me.

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This Sarah Richardson design is also clean and simple and can be changed easily with accessories.
Plus it seems very gender neutral for the guest room/boys room.


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I love this one above but I would use a different light fixture.  Something more modern and less feminine. I'd also have a dark gray  chest in the middle instead of white.  These are full beds which would be too big for most of the cottages we're looking at but I love the idea of two full beds in a guest room if they fit.


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I think this is from Martin Bullard but could not verify the original source.

This one is my favorite which kind of surprises me.  I am not usually a fan of this bed style. I think I like the light and dark with touches of coral.  Plus the draped fabric over the beds visually separates them a bit.  I like the clean simplicity of all of these. I think this is the look I am leaning toward.


What Dave and I really need is either The Property Borthers or Chip and Joanna Gaines to come help us makeover one of these original bungalows.  We saw one today that we know had potential but everything needed to be re-done. Seriously, it had a pond/fountain in the dining room y'all!  It also needed more repairs than made financial sense. It seemed too overwhelming even though I could visualize it down the road.

Spring shorts

Saturday, February 28, 2015
I really hurt my upper back somehow.  I am not really sure what I did to it.  I might have injured it in my Barre class.  I have stuck with the bar method now for 18 months. Can you believe that?! I try to go 4 times a week but this week, I have been in bed with heat or ice on my back.  I am having muscle spasms next to and under my shoulder blades in the mid back.  It literally hurts to breathe sometimes.  I went to the doctor yesterday and he gave me muscle relaxers but they knock me out cold.  Which is fine if I want to sleep all day but that is kind of hard to do with 3 kids and a practice to run.

My back feels feels fine when I wake up and then as soon as I start moving around the spasms return with a vengence.

Anyway, I have spent a lot of time in my bed surfing the internet, reading and watching TV.  That's not always good because I like to shop via the internet.  My husband some people might even say that I have a slight internet shopping addiction. But for the sake of this post, let's just ignore those people.

So, I needed some new shorts.  I was wearing my shorts kinda long.  But now that I actually have muscle tone in my legs (and the style is shorter), I decided to freshen up my short wardrobe.  Keep in mind that Summer last about 6-8 months in Houston.  So, I wear shorts A LOT.

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I ordered these and they arrived the other day.  They are so cute.  The fabric, colors and fit are awesome. They are longer on me than the model  (I'm shorter:) They run a tad big. Although it is so hard to tell with vanity sizing these days.  I am typically a 2 or 4 in shorts.  I do not like them tight. The 2 was perfect for me in these.



I also ordered these.  This length is a little more modest but still looks fresh and not dated (like my old shorts).  I love these.  They fit perfectly and will match a lot.  They were very flattering on.


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Finally, I ordered these.  I was hesitant as I thought they might be too similar to the top ones.  But they are my favorite.  The material is a pique and the pattern is so cute in person. The lengths on all of these are perfect.

I am 47 years old so I do not feel comfortable in  really short shorts but I also was feeling frumpy in my longer (7 inch) shorts. These all seem to be the perfect compromise.  They are a classic cut but look on trend.

I also spotted these on sale and grabbed a pair in pink and white.



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I bought the 5 inch length but they also come in 3 and 1/2 inch length. 




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Shorts

Usually, I am not a fan of denim shorts.  But these are the MOST comfortable shorts! Between my reward points and the sale, they were so inexpensive, I decided to give them a try.  And I am so glad that I did. I already wore them once and got compliments on them.  You might want to size down one size as these are loose fitting.

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And finally for Kate, this is the BEST purchase I have made.  It is her favorite article of clothing right now  In fact, I went back and ordered it in the lighter wash since she loves it so much and wants to wear it everyday.  If it came in my size, I'd order it for me.

Oh wait, They did just get a adult version! 

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I might have to try this one.


These shorts for girls are really cute too.


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These are all GREAT deals right now.  If you have a card use code STYLE for 40% off and code PREVIEW for 30% off if you don't have a card.  I rarely shop in stores anymore.  I hate driving around town and have limited time between working and mom/family stuff.  Plus, there always seem to be great sales online that are not necessarily happening in store.

I think we are all set on shorts for now.  But since I am kind of bed bound until this muscle stops torturing me, I'll probably do some more pretend internet shopping posts.

Disclosure Note:  This post contains some affiliate links and if you purchase items after clicking on links I may receive a small commission from the company (at no cost to you). I only link to products or companies I have used and loved. Thank you.

Mother-Son College Road-trip

Monday, February 16, 2015
I had NO idea that President's Day weekend is apparently a HUGE time to visit colleges.  Will is our oldest so this is our first go around at college visits.  Last Fall, Dave took Will to visit UVA and William and Mary.  He really liked both of them.

I decided (when I found out Will had off last Friday) to plan a very spur of the moment road trip for us to visit Baylor, TCU and SMU.  Now this is kind of ironic because a) I don't really do things spur of the moment, b) I don't really travel and am a homebody and c) I have a severe phobia of driving on the Texas freeways (a recent one since I have been hit a few times on them through no fault of my own).  Even Dave could not believe I had planned this little road trip.

I really enjoyed my time with Will.  He introduced me to his favorite music.  We ate a lot.  This boy ate 6 full meals on Friday.  Our first stop was Baylor in Waco, Texas.  It was my first time in Waco and we were both pleasantly surprised.  We pulled into Waco around breakfast time so we went here and had a great breakfast.  There were lots of very cute co-ed girls there and so Will was a little distracted.  Baylor has 60% females to 40% males.  I think that was kind of appealing to him.

After breakfast, we had to make a slight detour.  I love the show Fixer Upper and it takes place in Waco.  My Mom is kind of obsessed with the show and Joanna Gaines.  When she found out we were going to Waco she made a big fuss about us visiting the Magnolia shop.  So we did.

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It is a cute shop but the inventory is very limited.  I hear they are expanding.  My Mom was looking for a "g" for her wall but I could not find one.  I did pick her up a little something for Mother's Day (she is coming to visit for Kate's 1st holy Communion!)

Will hated this.  He was embarrassed and did not want to take my photo.  He did notice there were lots of other old ladies in mini-vans stopping;)

Then we went to the Catholic Student Center at Baylor.  We just walked in and there were some kids studying.  They were so welcoming.  I really enjoyed talking to these kids. We got a great tour of the center and learned a lot about the campus ministry.  I felt confident that Will would find a great place to support his faith there.

Will was hungry again so we headed to this place (at a friend's recommendation)

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I got a coffee milkshake because I was sleepy.  Will ate a double cheeseburger and a peach milkshake.  The food here looked amazing and not at all healthy!

Then we had a tour at Baylor.

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We had fabulous tour.  Baylor has such great traditions and the campus was lovely.  We both were so pleasantly surprised.  Will had always thought he'd go out of state for college but I think he will seriously consider Baylor now.  As we started this tour, Will said, "Mom we should walk near the front of the group.  You learn a lot more that way."  And he was SO right.  On both this tour and our SMU tour, we learned all sorts of tidbits that the rest of the group did not hear.  Just my piece of advice for those of you about to tour colleges.  Stay near the front and strike up conversations with your guide as you move from point to point.

After our incredible Baylor tour, we headed up to Dallas.  It was a harrowing drive during Friday afternoon rush hour but we made it.  We checked into our hotel in Highland Park and then went to dinner with Eloise, Robert and Vivi.  Eloise is a blogging friend who we have gotten to know a bit over the years.  She has visited us in Houston and we have visited them in Dallas. They were so kind and gracious to take us to their local Mexican restaurant.  Then they drove us around the SMU campus.  They are both SMU alums as they met there:)  I did not get a photo of us and I am so bummed because I just love their family.  They have a daughter Will's age who is also touring colleges.

Saturday morning was GORGEOUS!  It was perfect Texas weather….  blue skies, no clouds and perfect temps. And the SMU campus is absolutely beautiful.  I cannot overstate how beautiful it is.

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I LOVED SMU!    Seriously, I would go there if I could. If Will chooses a different school, I'm going to hope Kate or Harry goes there;) It is beautiful and the alumni are incredible.  I loved the academic programs and the traditions.  Again, we had a great tour guide and we stuck near the front and got a lot more information from him.

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We did not have time to visit the Catholic Student Center but I wish we had. Next time.

Will was starving (again!) and really wanted In-n-Out.  We don't have them in Houston.  So, we went. It was heavenly.

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So, at this point, I kind of needed a nap.  But we headed back onto the freeways down to Fort Worth to visit TCU.  We could not get into an official TCU tour because they were full.  But we walked around campus and talked to students in the rec center, visitor center and student union.  Will really liked the laid back feeling of the campus.  Kids were laying out on the lawn and playing music and tossing a football.  It was super chill.


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The mascot is the "horned frog"

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This is frog fountain.


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I really wish we had an official tour.  But I think if Will wants to, we could come back and visit again.

We were SO TIRED after this visit.  I seriously wanted to get a hotel and sleep.  But we had to drive home.  It was a long drive that afternoon but Will and I had some good talks.  He slept some of the way but then we talked about some really good stuff.  I really am so grateful for the relationship we have.  I am kind of tough on my kids.  I have high expectations but I give them unconditional love and we talk about everything.  I am incredibly blessed that they talk to me and trust me too.  I will never forget our talks on this road trip.

As we pulled into Houston (I was completely fried), Will played me some awesome upbeat 80's music from his phone.  He held out on me the entire trip.  I laughed as we enjoyed some fun 80's music for the least few minutes of our drive.  I am still tired from this trip and cannot imagine touring colleges in 9-10 years with Kate.  I will be SO OLD!  

I am just so proud of Will.  He does not know where he wants to go to college or exactly what he wants to major in but he has such a good head on his shoulders and he is a good person.  I am blessed to have had this time with just him.

{All I-phone pics}

Cotillion 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015
A few weeks ago, Will was invited to go to Cotillion with a friend of his.  I love Will's high school friend group.  He went into his high school not really knowing anyone.  He did not come from one of their typical feeder schools and I was concerned about him making friends. (BTW--Harry will likely be in the same situation and I am praying about it already.)  But, Will has found awesome friends who, for the most part, have the same values and morals as he does.  They are good students, dedicated athletes and responsible kids.  They are respectful.

As these dances roll around (homecoming, winter formal, cotillion, prom), it seems that it is always the same group of guys and girls going together.  I have gotten to know a lot of the parents as there are always little parities or dinners before hand and the parents have always been invited. I love that.  And our kids actually seem to enjoy us being there and taking photos.  In fact, Will has already asked us to host his senior homecoming dinner.

This one was hosted by some parents at a beautiful country club.  They had food for the kids and cocktails for the parents.  It was lovely.  I cherish all of these moments of Will's high school life.  As I write this, Will is at school taking his ACT.  I have one more year with him at home.  Only one more year of these dances and memories. I know there will be college memories (parent's weekends) but I am soaking in as much of this as I can.

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Will's date, Elizabeth is such a sweet person.
They have been friends for a few years and I really like her.

I took a few photos of Elizabeth and her Mom.

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These are a few of Will's best friends, Caroline and David.

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Thomas, David, Gunther and Will

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Will is good friends with both of these girls and their Moms asked me to get a photo…
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Tori, Will and Elizabeth

I love these candids too…

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One of my favorite parts of this night (and something I want to remember) is that many of the Moms, Dads and girls went out of their way to tell me how much how highly they think of Will. It warmed my heart to hear that Will is the respectful gentleman that we raised him to be and that these friends and parents see that in him.

How to get your kids to stop fighting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
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Last week I was giving  talk to a group of women at a church and afterwards a woman came up to me and asked me if my kids fight.  I stopped and really thought about it and said, "No, not really."

I'd like to clarify immediately that yes, once in a while they bicker and sometimes the boys put one another down.  However, for the most part, my kids do not fight.  And honestly they never really did fight much. Sibling fighting in our house has been the exception rather than the norm.

The woman then asked me why I thought they did not fight.  I really thought about it for a minute.  First, I considered the age difference but I quickly realized that I have clients and friends who have big age gaps and their kids fight a lot.

I really think the reason my kids don't fight very often is that most of the time their emotional buckets are full.  Siblings fight primarily out of jealousy, boredom and lack of attention.  I firmly believe that if you connect emotionally and meaningfully with each of your children every day, the fighting will be insignificant in your home.  That meaningful connection will fill their need for both attention and jealousy.  You might see small and occasional bickering but the constant battles will disappear.

What exactly does that daily connection look like? Well it is different for each child depending on both the child and the age.  For Kate, it might simply be sitting at the table while she does her homework and asking about her day.  It might be watching the last few minutes of her violin lesson and talking to her about the new song she is learning.  It might be sitting on the couch snuggling and reading a chapter of Little House on the Prairie with her.  I connect with her in a way that she feels my undivided attention and interest.

For Harry, it might be hanging out in his room and asking him about the music on his phone or going out in the garage and looking at the new fishing lures he has painted. When Harry was younger, we would go out in the driveway and throw the baseball back and forth.  I was terrible and we would laugh at how uncoordinated I am but it was a great bonding experience for us.  Another way to connect  with teenage boys is over food.  I am not usually a fan of the drive thru or fast food in general, but if I drive through whataburger for my boys, they talk and we connect.  It's a win-win. Plus my skinny boys can use the extra calories.

With Will, I simply go in his room and hang out on his window seat while he is doing homework.  Usually, he will chat with me about his day, friends and classes.  But when he was little I would ask about his lego scenes and build something with him.  We also connected a lot though reading and books.

By taking just a little bit of time every day to make each child feel special and valued, we reduce the bickering around here. It was not really my intention to connect with them for the purpose of reducing the bickering.  I simply want to connect with my children on a daily basis.  But I will guarantee for every one reading this…that if you connect with each of your children in a meaningful and consistent way, giving them 100% of your undivided attention, you will not have a lot of bickering and fighting in your home.

I notice that when the boys do criticize one another it is almost ALWAYS after Dave or I just praised one of them or gave one of them extra attention.  I can literally see the ugly green monster of jealousy come out in whoever did not get the praise or attention.

My children are not perfect and Dave and I make mistakes in our parenting. There is no such thing as perfect parenting or perfect children.  But this is one thing I have noticed…. when my kids needs for attention are being met, our house is a lot more peaceful.  I have parents in my office who tell me they don't have time to connect with all of their kids every day.  I hear where they are coming from and I can empathize with them.  Life is busy.  If you are working outside the home and your children are in school and activities, you might only see them a few hours each day.  You might not be able to connect with each one every day but try to do it most days.

Also, sometimes it is really hard to connect with a child who is in a difficult phase of life. It can be a vicious cycle because often the kid who needs our attention the most is the one it is toughest to spend time with.  So, we spend less time connecting with that child and they act out more.  But just a few minutes of your undivided attention is the best investment you can make in your relationship with your child.  And just think about the time it takes to discipline and intervene in sibling arguments and power struggles. By doing this, you will actually have more time with your children and the time will be positive.

One of the things I recommend to my clients is to keep a small notebook on your bedside table and keep track of how you connect with each child each day.  It helps to keep you accountable and it helps you to track the patterns that make a difference with your children. Are there days when I don't connect with all (or any) of my children?  Yes, I am human and very flawed. But if I keep track of it, I am more likely to do it.

People ask me all the time if this is true for kids with special needs like ADHD, autism, sensory issues and the like.  I think kids with impulsivity will often have more challenges controlling their behavior which can sometimes escalate sibling fighting.  But in general ALL kids need these connections daily and they will all benefit from it.


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Tell me what you think in the comments:)


This is the day

Sunday, February 1, 2015
It was exactly 8 years ago today that we saw Kate's face for the first time.  I really cannot believe it was that long ago. I remember it like it was yesterday.  I even remember choosing my clothes that day thinking I would be seeing her face for the first time (so silly!)  Our agency emailed us the photo in the early evening and we all gathered around my laptop to see what she looked like. I remember seeing her sweet face.  She looked very serious (and she is not serious at all). Her nose was so tiny and her cheeks were so full. My friend, Amie was there as we saw Kate's photos for the first time and she captured it on video.  Will just kept saying how beautiful she was. You can read the whole story here.

I had no idea on that day how perfectly and seamlessly she would fit into our family but she does.  God blessed all of us so much with Kate.  She brings JOY to so many people.

Each year, I take a few photos of Kate with her referral photo.  I was not sure she would still oblige this year as she is 8 and 1/2 and she is too busy doing other things to give me a few minutes for a photo shoot.  But she did it for me.  They're not the best photos as she was in a hurry to get back to her knitting and her TV show.  She is obsessed with knitting these days.

This morning after Mass, Kate wanted to go to our favorite place for breakfast. No one else really wanted to go (but me) so Kate and I went and had a lovely Mommy/Daughter date.
It was really nice as we ran into some old friends and some new friends who are about to travel to China to meet their daughter.  I am continually amazed at the ways that God brings people together. Lately our paths have crossed with some other families considering adoption or in the process and it is has been honor to be a part of that journey.

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We always get a chuckle out of Kate's referral photo as it certainly is a unique one.


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Thank you God for brining Kate into our lives.  We will never really know why her birth parents could not raise her but we are so blessed and honored that we get to be her family. I really cannot imagine our lives without her. We love you Kate.

You can see our referral day photos over the years by clicking here and scrolling through them.