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.

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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.

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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 (khswales@comcast.net).  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.


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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:)

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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...

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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.  

Easter {2015}

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Yes, it has taken me over a week to post about our Easter.  This week has flown by. Once my kids got into school and activities, I quickly learned that April and May are chock full of end of year commitments with school, sports, violin, church etc.

Also, on Tuesday afternoon my fabulous photographer friend, Shelly did a First Holy Communion photo shoot with Kate.  It was such a fun afternoon.  Kate had never had her hair done at a salon before. Her fine hair is somewhat challenging to put into an up-do (for me) so I knew I wanted someone else to do her hair on the special day.

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Some I phone snaps

I have to share a little story about Kate here.  Shelly and I talked about where to do this photo shoot. We wanted a classic, pretty background so we settled on a old historic church downtown.  When I told Kate about going downtown, she said, "Mama, why would we take them at a different church? That doesn't make sense."  As soon as she said it I saw the error of my ways.  See, our church is pretty but it was built in the 1950's and although it is home to us and beautiful in many ways, I did not immediately think of it as the perfect backdrop.  Anyway, I thought about what Kate said and she was SO RIGHT.  We needed to take the photos at our church.  I am so glad God gave me such a wise little girl.  If I ever forget what is really important, she reminds me.

Anyway, the photo shoot was so much fun. Shelly and I snapped away for about 2 hours and Kate was cooperative and joyful and delightful the whole time.  She looked stunning and I got a little glimpse of what she will look like as a bride someday.  I cannot wait to share the five thousand photos we took but I want to wait until after her special day in May.

Back to Easter...  We often attend Mass at Will (and soon Harry's) high school.  It is a Jesuit school and I love how simple and meaningful the Mass is there.  The Jesuits give amazing homilies too.  So, we went to Easter Mass there.  It was a rainy day here but we managed a few photos on the back porch before Mass.

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Harry was not ready yet and I wanted to check the light outside and it was already raining a bit.

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Kate and I were not really planning on matching for Easter.  We usually do that on Mother's Day.  In fact, I had a totally different dress plan for me for Easter.  But that morning, Kate wanted to wear these and I had not bought her an Easter dress so this worked out.  Our dresses are from Kelly's Kids.

Then Dave took some of me and the kids.


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Dave was making us laugh in this one above.  Harry is very funny and uses some interesting expressions and terminology that he picks up at his extremely diverse inner city public school. They are nothing inappropriate but just funny.  YEET! Dave was imitating him and we all cracked up.

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After Mass, we came home and relaxed a bit.  Then we did our egg hunt.  It was wet and rainy so we did it inside.  We put $  (dollar coins, bills and two dollar bills) in the eggs now to keep the boys interested.  Each kid got to find 16 eggs.

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Will found his eggs really quickly.  He also amassed the most money.  I think he had about $12 which was pretty sweet for about 3 minutes of effort for him!  He loves having doughnut change in his car.

Harry and Kate took a while and were finished about the same time.

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DSC_0012 I treasure each one of these silly little traditions so much. We just paid the deposit for Will's senior year of high school and included was a graduation fee and cap and gown fee. It just really drove home how much our family will be changing soon.  We fight and bicker and get on each other's nerves.  But we also have fun and really enjoy each other too.


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After the egg hunt, we had a fabulous Sunday dinner.  It was a really great day.

P.S. I am not sure if any of you bought this  maxi dress but I did and I LOVE it.  The slits were a tad high for me so I had my seamstress sew them up a little (for like $7) and it is perfect.  I wore it to a fashion show for my Mom's group last week and so many people asked me about it. I got a ton of compliments on it.  Even the boutique owners who were styling our  fashion show wanted to know where it was from.  So, keep your eye out for a discount code or sale. I got mine on a good sale. It is light and comfortable and super forgiving.

Kate's Special Day {2015}

Monday, April 6, 2015
I completely leave it up to Kate as to how much to make of her "special day" which is the anniversary of her joining our family.  Some years, we have simply gone for an ice cream cone.  Some years, we have gone for a mommy-daughter pedicure or made a pink cake.  This year, her special day fell on a Saturday.  So, Kate told us she wanted to go fishing, get a cupcake and order Chinese food.


So, we went to a local park to fish and explore.

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Will climbed trees and made friends with the squirrels.

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Will and Kate

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Kate is all business when it comes to fishing.

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She gets really mad when I try to take photos (see below).

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I love seeing all three of my kids together.  I see it less and less these days as the teens are always busy:(


There was a cool art installation in the park...


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The fish were not biting at the park, so we headed to the cupcake shoppe.

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We stopped home to wash hands and eat our cupcakes.

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Harry is addicted to fishing  (#thetugishisdrug) so he convinced us all to try another fishing hole.  And it was a success as they all caught fish.

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Harry reeled in a big bass (video above).  And finally, Kate caught one...

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She LOVES fishing but she is not a fan of holding the fish.  That is why she holds it out like that and makes a face.  I posted this on IG and someone thought it was fake.  Kate has caught a few fish and she even got a new rod and reel for Easter.

After fishing, Kate changed her mind about dinner.  She heard her brothers talking about chicken wings.  So, we went out for buffalo wings.  She is very other oriented.  She knows that her brothers like fishing and wings so she partially chose to do things they would enjoy too.

After dinner, I gave Kate this charm.  I had seen it a few weeks ago and knew it would be perfect for her even though I don't usually giver her a gift on this day.  Everyday, Kate says it's the BEST day ever!  She really does.  She finds the good in each and every day.  I love her positivity. 

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And the day Kate joined our family truly was one of the best days ever!

Beach and Egg Dying

Saturday, April 4, 2015
Today is Kate's "Special Day."   I love that name because she came up with it.  Today is the anniversary of the day Kate came home from China.  Will and Dave met Kate in China at the end of March but they arrived home and we became a family of five on April 4th, 2007!  We will spend some special time together as a family and I will post about it in a few days.  As I type this, Harry is outside playing basketball with his sister.  I never imagined the incredible bond those two would have.  They are best friends.  It is such a gift to see.

Anyway, over Spring Break we spent some time at the beach with our good friends but I never posted about it.

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Kate and her friend, Layne.

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They dig a big hole and pretend it is a foot spa.

Kate's bathing suit is from here.

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Kate is so close to getting her aerial.  She has done a few but she often puts a hand down at the last second.  She loves to tumble around at the beach.

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Harry spent his time skim boarding and fishing.

Due to circumstances, he was the only teenaged boy there but he had a blast nonetheless.

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Kate did some skim boarding too.  I LOVE that Harry taught her how to do this last summer.

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Drippy castles were built...

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Here is Harry fishing...

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Catch and release...

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We also went to Galveston last weekend to visit Dave's sister who was in town.

We only went for a quick day trip but it was fun...

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They fished off the dock and we went to the beach too.

Yesterday, we planned to dye eggs in the morning.  I have been having upper and middle back pain lately and then yesterday morning I started having chest pains.  I was lightheaded and did not feel right.  These are classic symptoms of a heart attack in women.  I got concerned so we went to the ER.  It was very scary but I they immediately got me an EKG and a chest X-ray.  I was treated very promptly.  They do not think it was a heart attack but something is going on in the left side where my heart is and around back too.  I am having some sort of spasms or inflammation.  I have another doctor appt on April 20th with a neuromuscular specialist.

We did end up dying eggs when I got home from the ER.

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A very sweet instagram friend sent us the monogram egg kit.  I tried to find one here in town and could not find one, so she sent it to us.  It was so thoughtful of Rachel to send us one.

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Even Will was home which is so rare these days!


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They got quite creative with the eggs.

You might be able to tell from Harry's shirt that he chose a high school.
We are so happy he will get a Jesuit education too.


Happy Easter everyone!!