a few things

Thursday, April 3, 2014
I am working on a few posts but wanted to share these few things in the meantime....

Kate got moved up to Level 3 in her competitive gymnastics on January 1st and her training hours have increased.  She LOVES it and never complains but it means that she will be leaving dance after her recital this year.  This will be her 6th dance recital and I am so sad she is quitting.  I get it and I totally support her decision but I am still sad.

In Level 3 gymnastics, they have to do a round-off back-handspring and Kate has been working hard to get this since January.  She got it about a month ago and her coach was kind enough to send me a video.

Also, Harry has been involved in an organization here called Positive Works.  It is a FABULOUS community initiative started by two women I know from church and various circles to end bullying.  Harry has been involved from the very beginning and was even in Redbook Magazine when they did an article on +Works.

This year they invited Harry to emcee a rally on having courage.  It was a beautiful night of performances (music, singing, skits, poetry, etc).  Harry said yes when they asked him because he loves the organization.  But the truth is, the night before he was pretty nervous.  He almost did not want to do it.  He has never emcee'd anything and was a little nervous about being onstage at his middle school.  But in the end, he had courage and he did it!




Well, he was AWESOME! And he enjoyed it too.  I would not be surprised if we see him doing more public speaking in the future.  I wish I had a video or better photos.  I am trying to live more in the moment so I use my phone for photos a lot now and it is not great in low light.

Harry has also been babysitting lately too. He took the Red Cross babysitting class online and last week he babysit 3 little kids under the age of 5!  He did so well, they have asked him back next week.  He is incredible with young kids.  I am happy for him but sad for me because he is my main sitter for Kate and pretty soon he will be booked by other people (who pay!)

Will is a busy, busy teen these days.  He is a captain of the JV water polo team and a planner/leader for next year's freshmen retreat at his school.  Between school and work and water polo and his social life, we rarely see him.  Sniff, sniff.

Finally, this just amazes me.  Harry and Kate won these goldlfish over a year ago and this lil guy (or gal?!) is still swimming around.  How long do these things live?  We keep it alive but I am telling you it is a pain in the neck. We never even named it because I did not think it would last a week let alone a year!  It lives in a big vase and we change the water once a week.  This one hardy fish!   I never thought he'd live this long.


Tomorrow is Kate's "special" day (what she calls it).  It is the day I met her. 
 It is the day our whole family was together for the first time. I am sure I will post about it very soon.

spring break beach day

Monday, March 31, 2014
Each year during Spring Break, our good friends invite a group of us to their beach house.  Due to Harry's Spain/France trip, Will's water polo schedule, Kate's intense gymnastics schedule and my work, only Kate and I could slip away for about 24 hours.  It was so needed though and it was very relaxing. We had an awesome time.

I did not take a ton of photos (like I usually do at the beach) but Kate had a ball with her friends.


Kate looks so grown up to me in this shot.


This is Kate's friend, Layne (her family invites us each year).

As an added bonus (and surprise) there were come other little friends from Kate's school there too.


The girls dug a hole and all sat around it with their feet inside.  They took turns filling a bucket with water from the cold ocean and pouring it in the hole. They did this forever and laughed and giggled each time.  It was so cute!

Kate loves her girlfriends but she is equally as happy and comfortable playing alone (which I love).


She is just the HAPPIEST little girl!


The water was really cold but it did not stop them...



And of course, cause my girl's gotta tumble so there was some of this going on...



Her muscle tone astonishes me.  I wish I had it!
This was Kate's first time in the sun this year but she looks SO dark to me in these photos.

And my favorite photo of the trip...


Both of Kate's bathing suits are can be found here.

rodeo time

Saturday, March 29, 2014
So, it was just Rodeo time here in Houston.  Dave and I went a few weeks ago to the BBQ cook-off.  That was interesting and fun. Loads of good people watching! Will has gone a few times a night with his friends.  But we usually go as a family during Spring Break.  I remember last year thinking it might be out last year to all go together.  I knew that at almost 17, Will would be going with friends this year.  And Harry was in Europe on the coast of France and Spain this day so he missed it too!

I invited one of Kate's good friends from school to join us and they were sooo cute.  They walked around the whole rodeo carnival either hand in hand or with an arm around one another.  It was so bright and one of my cameras is broken so I am not thrilled with the shadows/overexposure of some of my photos but I LOVE looking back over the years at our rodeo photos. It brings back good memories.


Kate and her friend, Maria.

They held hands the whole time...so cute!

First, we rode the ponies.  We always do that first because the line gets long.  The sun was so bright that each photo has Kate in the shadows of the tent.  I tried a fill flash and that blew the photos out.  But I got this...



Immediately after the pony rides, we went to the petting zoo. 
I love how I caught the cone mid-air in the photo below..  Dave was feeding a goat and he pulled it right out of his hands.  That little deer came right up to Kate's face:)

Kate's friend Maria was really nervous in the petting zoo so she did not last long. I cannot blame her. Years ago, I was was thrown down by a mean llama in the rodeo petting zoo and I still have flashbacks! Kate and I do love petting on the little goats though.  They were sweet.

After the petting zoo, the girls wanted to go on some carnival rides...



I think we went to eat after that. Rodeo food is awesome (it's all junk food). It is not the way we usually eat but we throw caution to the wind and eat the decadent food that is there. I had cajun shrimp and Dave had sausage. I think the girls had burgers.


I love this shot of Kate and Maria just before the pig races.

After lunch, we went to the pig races. This is a rodeo tradition too.  Both of our boys used to love the pig races.  They pick kids from the audience to lead the crowd cheering on a pig for that section.  Will and Harry had been chosen when they were younger but Kate has always been pretty reserved (shy).  This year, she was picked though!




After the pig races, the girl did a few more rides...the carousel and the swings/spider thingy.




We promised the girls a"sweet treat" of their choice on the way out.  If you've never been to a Southern carnival, you will not appreciate the "fried" food options available at Rodeo.  The girls chose fried ice cream.  I think they liked it!  I opted to try fried Strawberry Shortcake.  It looked tasty but it was not so good.

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 Bye bye Rodeo 2014~See you next year!

UPDATE: A few of you are praying for the girls injured on Harry's trip.  One of them returned to the US and needs surgery on her ACL.  The other girl was moved out of ICU this week and is still recovering in Spain.  She will be there another month due to the extent of her injuries.  Her name is Leslie and I am sure they would appreciate continued prayer.

a date with kate

Sunday, March 23, 2014
We had a lovely Spring Break and I have posts about the rodeo and Go Texan Day and the beach to put up here.  But I had a really special (and unexpected) day with Kate today and I want to write about it while it is so fresh in my mind.

During Mass this morning, Kate was looking at a book about Angels and Saints that I bought her for Christmas.  She still gets a little bored during Mass and although she pays attention pretty well, she likes to have a spiritual book or two to glance through if things get long.  As she looked at the art in the Saint book, she whispered to me "Mama, can we go to the Art Museum today to see some of the religious paintings?"

Truthfully, it was kind of the last thing I wanted to do today.  Kate and I have been pretty inseparable for the last week.  We have spent loads of quality time together.  And while I thoroughly enjoyed every second, I had grocery shopping and laundry and ironing and other things to get caught up on.  I actually like getting caught up on Sunday afternoons.  It makes the week start off smoothly.

Anyway, I started thinking about my boys and how they really love museums (all kinds).  And so many people tell me that their kids do not.  We have spent a lot of time in museums as a family.  Our kids have gone since they were infants and so they have a real appreciation for art. And honestly, I think it is a learned appreciation.  The peanuts know how to behave in a museum and they actually get a lot out of them.

So, I decided that I needed to take Kate today.  She LOVES art and I want to continually expose her to culture.

I looked on the web and learned that the MFA had a family day today which means they have "family activities."  Today was a lesson on John Singer Sargent, Italian watercolorist.  They also had "pop-up" concerts by Rice University Shepherd School of Music students playing the violin and cello.  So, it seemed like a greta day to go...

The azaleas have all just bloomed here and so it was gorgeous all around. (all I-phone photos)

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Yes, Kate wore her beret to the Museum.  She cracks me up!

When we were standing in line to get it, Kate could see something "sparkly" off to the side and she told me that she wanted to go look at it first.  So, that is what we did!

It was a really cool installation by a modern artist from India and made completely from stainless steel.

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After that we stumbled onto Art of China and Art of Japan.  Kate was fascinated.  
Many of the pieces were B.C. and she loved reading the history.


Kate said the funniest thing in the Japan exhibit.  There was a Buddhist sculpture and she said, "he looks like he is medicating."  I know she meant meditating but I had a good giggle.  She says things like that all the time.

Next we went to the hands on part where Kate could learn about and paint like John Singer Sargent.


This docent was so fabulous.  She spent so much time teaching Kate all about the artist and his techniques and life.  Kate loved it and I loved watching her.



John Singer Sargent used to sit outside under a white umbrella and sketch and they had little areas set up for the kids to do so as well.

After that, we went over to the other building for the religious paintings and the "pop-up" concerts.

This is the underground tunnel to the other building.  It changes colors.


We found the musicians right away.  They were quite good but they were quite loud for Kate.  She really enjoyed the music but she actually covered her ears.  People looked at her and smiled sweetly.  I think they thought she did not like the music but she really did. Ever since she got tubes in her ears (years ago), her hearing is very sensitive and she does not like anything loud.  That was a shame because I could have listened to them all day.  And Kate plays violin so she would have liked to listen longer too.



Since it was too loud for Kate, we went and looked at some impressionist paintings and the religious art.


And finally, we went to another station to create some more John Singer Sargent art.
 At this station, the lesson was about vanishing points.




 Smartypants Kate already knew about vanishing points and got right to creating a Venice scene.
I however got quite lost and messed up my vanishing point badly.  I am not artisitcally inclined.
 But Kate is.


It was such a delightful afternoon (much better than laundry and ironing) and I got such joy out of just being with Kate.  She is the sweetest little being. I wish you all could get to know her scrumptious little personality.  I am so blessed that she is our daughter.

  Today reminded me of a Sunday date I had with Will 5 years ago at the museum.

Dave and I are off to the airport to pick up Harry now. I can't wait to see him!! It sounds like he had an amazing trip. Sadly, two girls in his travel group were injured in a car accident yesterday in Barcelona.  One girl broke her knee and the other girl is more seriously injured. Please keep them in your prayers.