Monday, May 30, 2011

Birthday/Holiday Weekend

What a fun weekend we had! On Friday afternoon, Jeff and Weston worked on building a bird house together--from a kit that Weston got for his half-birthday. On Saturday morning, they worked on another building project: little vehicles. Later in the day on Saturday some of our favorite people showed up for a visit--my parents and grandparents. After cuddling with Clay for a while, we took everyone out to see the progress on our house. Then, we came back here for a little birthday party for our favorite nine-year-old. On Sunday, we went to church, out to lunch at the place of Ruth's choice (the Thai place), and on a major shopping trip to pick up ingredients for playing Chopped, which is what Ruth wanted to do for her family birthday party. We watched "The Three Stooges" in the afternoon, before donning the chef's coat and getting down to some culinary business. Ruth's Chopped competitor was Jeff, and they both turned out some fantastic food, which we all enjoyed immensely. We ended the meal with the rather untraditional, but-oh-so yummy birthday fondue. Today, we slept in, had more visitors and enjoyed  wonderful, homemade ribs for lunch. We then took our visitors out to the house. When they left, we went out to the Family Fun Day at Camp Peniel, where we zoomed across a little lake on the zip line, rode some horses, tried our hand at archery and sling shots, and ate snow cones--all for free! And from there, we went over to a nearby ranch to see the new little foals. Obviously, the kids are pooped (as are the parents), but we all had such a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Hey there, Cheek. You are nine today. Nine. Wow! I have to admit that this one is a little hard for me (and for Dad, too). I just keep thinking, "I just have this much more time with you before you leave home." In fact, Dad and I were talking about that very thing in a private conversation the other day, and we both got all teary and blubbery and had to change the subject. (I'll admit that the greater part of the tears and blubbering were mine). It's not that we're sad that you are growing up. It's just that it's happening so fast, and this birthday, in particular, has made us realize just how fast.

Additionally, I recently had a conversation with you about how your body and mind are changing now and how they will be changing over the next few years. You are definitely growing up and turning into a lady! It is a blessing to watch and a joy to be a part of. 

You have been unwavering in your love of animals, especially horses. You are still planning to be a veterinarian when you grow up. You also enjoy arts and crafts, sewing, cooking, music, playing with your brothers and, more than anything, reading. Dad and I got you a Kindle for your birthday because we couldn't think of anything you liked more than reading, and we thought that would be a good way to carry lots of books around with you, without having to carry lots of books around with you. 

You are smart, talented, funny, loving, giving, thoughtful, creative and beautiful. Your brothers adore you, and Daddy and I couldn't be prouder of you! It is such a pleasure just to know you! 

I love you so much, Sweet Girl, and I am praying that the Lord would bless you on your birthday and throughout the upcoming year. I'm so glad He picked me to be your mom! I hope you have a very happy birthday!

Lots of love,

Friday, May 27, 2011


Weston had his half-birthday yesterday, and in keeping with our family tradition, he got to make the dinner plan and then open a few small gifts. Weston chose Cooper's BBQ for dinner, a meat-lover's paradise, where you can chose your meat right off the pit. A real man's place! We had such a good time celebrating with our big guy and can't believe he is well on his way to six.

checking out the pit

Happy Half-Birthday

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CC Lake Day

Today, we got together at the lake to play with our beloved CC group, which we have been missing terribly. The kids had a blast playing in the water, and the moms enjoyed our "Mom Time" immensely. We are hoping for another opportunity to get together with our friends soon.

The Amazing Ruth

Flying Weston


"This is the life!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home Improvement List

  • Roof. Finished.
  • Stone. Finished.
  • Drywall. Finished.
  • Texturing. Finished.
Coming next week:
  • Cabinets
  • Trim
  • Paint
  • Interior doors
It's really starting to look and smell and feel like a real house!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mother of four

You may think that I became a mother of four two weeks ago when I gave birth to Clay. That is not true. Today was the day that actually happened, because today was the first time in the last two weeks that I had all four kids--five, if you count the twins, Max, which I think we should because he was ALL there today--completely to myself. And I didn't just ease into it, either. I earned my mother-of-four (five!) stripes the hard way. It went something like this:

2:45 am--feed Clay
5:45 am--alarm goes off and I stumble to the shower to start my day
6:30 am--get Ruth up for breakfast and make sure she has everything she needs for her SAT test
7:00 am--wake Clay up to feed him before we hit the road
7:30 am--Ruth and Clay and I hop in the van and head to Round Rock
8:00 am--turn the van upside-down, looking for No. 2 pencils to take to the test
8:45 am--drop Ruth off at testing site and head over to ENT's office for Clay's newborn hearing screen
9:15 am--quick stop at Walgreens for some beauty necessities
9:45 am--feed Clay in the van, in the parking lot of the clinic
10:15 am--put Clay, kicking and screaming (literally), in his carrier and go into clinic
11:30 am--leave ENT's office and head into north Austin to collect the other two boys from Jeff
12:10 pm--drive-thru at Chik--Fil-A
12:30 pm--arrive at testing site, with boys covered in crumbs and desperate to go to the bathroom
1:05 pm--leave testing site and head to Academy, looking for black boots for Weston
1:15 pm--leave Academy, sans boots
1:25 pm--unload everyone at fancy-shmancy (expensive) boot store across the street
1:40 pm--leave boot store, sans boots (Weston's feet are cubes, and shoes don't fit him well)
1:45 pm--drive to neighboring Big Lots!
1:50 pm--enter Big Lots! with the whole crew, looking for a birthday gift for Ruth's friend
2:00 pm--lose Max for a moment and find him testing out the rocking motion of some of the recliners in the furniture section
2:02 pm--give stern lecture to Max and confine him (whiningly) to the basket
2:02 pm-2:25 pm--tell Max multiple times to sit down and stop touching things
2:25 pm--perfect birthday gift found and bought
2:30 pm--feed Clay in the van, in the parking lot of Big Lots
2:55 pm--head to Marble Falls
3:15 pm--potty stop
4:00 pm--arrive at Payless
4:10 pm--purchase "wedding" shoes for the three big kids
4:15 pm--pick up "take-n-bake" pizzas for dinner
4:25 pm--drop Ruth off at piano lesson and send desperate boys to the bathroom
4:30 pm-4:45 pm--try to make the DVD player in the van work, finally giving up and settling for music
4:45 pm--feed Clay in the van, in the parking lot of the music school
4:45 pm-5:05 pm--tell Max multiple times to sit down and stop touching things
5:00 pm--send Weston back into music school to go to the bathroom
5:00 pm-5:05 pm--listen to Max whine about also needing to go to the bathroom
5:05 pm--send Max in with Ruth to go to the bathroom
5:10 pm--finish feeding Clay just in time to step out of the van and stop Max from running out into the parking lot
5:15 pm--head for home
5:50 pm--arrive home and unload van
6:00 pm--put pizzas in oven
6:10 pm-6:25 pm--sit on the deck, engaged in largely interrupted conversation with my in-laws
6:30 pm--take pizzas out of oven and start serving everyone
7:00 pm--send whiny three-year-old to bed
7:10 pm--feed Clay
7:30 pm--talk to Jeff (who stayed in Austin for several meetings) on the phone
7:45 pm--comfort crying baby, while trying to eat the rest of my now-cold dinner
7:50 pm--get puked on
7:55 pm--authorize Ruth and Weston to watch a John Wayne movie with their Grandpa
8:00 pm--feed now-hungry baby (again!)
8:30 pm--sit down at computer and commence eating chocolate chip cookie dough
9:00 pm--send oldest kids to bed

I am officially a mother of four!

Monday, May 16, 2011

After the rain

Some of you may be curious to know what became of our drywall after the storms. (Some of you may not care at all, and that's fine. Though if that's the case, you might want to just skip this post). The good news is there really wasn't too much damage. We had an inspector out there today with a fancy-schmancy, infrared gun he could shoot at the walls and ceiling to see what kind of moisture was lurking back behind the drywall, and we basically only found four relatively small areas that will need to be replaced. Additionally, most of the drywall is up now, and the house is starting to take on the very beginnings of a finished look. Also, much more of the roof is up now and should be completed by Wednesday, which should save us from further rain scares.

looking at kitchen from front door

looking at loft, above kitchen

one side of roof, finished

All About Ruth

This weekend was all about Ruth. Jeff and Clay and I took her to Ft. Worth on Friday, where we had a fancy dinner at The Melting Pot to celebrate her advancement to the PSIA state Spelling competition. The contest was on Saturday, so we spent the day at TCU. Ruth didn't place, but she was proud of her performance, and she had a good time. The scores were very close, and we are very proud of Ruth for all her hard work and just for getting to be there.

Yesterday afternoon, all grandparents and a great-aunt and uncle joined us for Ruth's piano recital. This was her first time to play in front of a real audience. She played three songs, and she did great. And, besides that, she looked beautiful! We are just so very proud of her and all her many accomplishments, and we had such a great time celebrating and supporting her this weekend!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Into every life a little rain must fall

Let me start by saying that I am so very thankful for the rain. This parched land needs the rain so much, and it is truly a blessing. But, selfishly speaking, I wish it wouldn't have showed up three days BEFORE our roof was finished on our new house, with most of the drywall already in place on the first floor. I mean, it hasn't rained for MONTHS; what's three more days?! So far, the damage has been minimal, and the roofers were out there this morning taking care of some obvious problem areas to prepare for the next wave of storms. We are hoping for the best. I did take some pictures of the drywall, insulation and partial roof when we were out there yesterday before the rain hit. I'm going to count it as progress until it proves to be otherwise.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Invisible Mother

I have post-partum brain, so I cannot formulate coherent thoughts or sentences. But while reading another blog today, I came across a beautiful short story I wanted to share here. This is for all the amazing moms I know, who likely do not get the recognition they deserve.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" 

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible - The Invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more. "Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?"
I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb."

~Psalm 139: 13

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." 
~Psalm 139:14

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Clay Jeffrey is here! Ole!

At 6:39 this morning, the newest member of our family arrived. His name is Clay Jeffrey Watts. But we wanted to leave his options open for him, so he has several choices for the future. A rapper name: Clay J. A lawyer name: C. Jeffrey Watts. And a lazy name: CJ. To his mom, however, he will always be Clay. He weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. and was 20 1/4 inches long. And he is just about the most perfect thing ever! "First Day" pictures are never awesome, but many of you have asked for pictures, so here you go.

Cuddling with Mom while having vitals checked

In good hands

The most perfect little ears

 The sweetest little baby face

The biggest brother and the littlest brother
Max loves his baby

I could just eat him up!
Ready to go home just 6 hours after birth
Another sweet brother for Ruth

The gang's all here

I know I'm his mom, but, seriously, isn't he just too cute?!

It's only right that our little Cinco de Mayo baby have this hanging over his crib

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Some rain and a few rays of sunshine

First, the rain:
  • Received notice that our ag exemption on our land expired YESTERDAY
  • Kids with tummy trouble (Thank you, nacho "cheese")
  • 500 papers signed, dated and notarized for closing on rental property purchase
  • Nap-less three-year-old had major meltdown at the bank, during the notary part of the aforementioned process
  • Flat tire on the way to Austin
  • Late for Baby check-up
  • Informed that Baby has made NEGATIVE "progress" in the last five days, despite increased back aches on Mom's part
  • Crazy construction delays on way home from Austin
And, now, the sunshine:

  • We should be able to keep the ag exemption, once we get the right forms filed
  • So, so thankful that Jeff was with me on this trip to Austin to take care of the tire
  • Also thankful for the understanding midwife who waited for me to show up just 10 minutes before the end of her day
  • Baby progress is not completely "negative." The kid has at least turned over and isn't face up now.
  • Fun dinner with the family at Brazilian Churrascaria, celebrating Jeff's half-birthday
  • A sweet friend offered to keep all three kids for me tomorrow afternoon 
  • My wonderful mom also offered to assist with the kids and help out in whatever capacity I needed

Monday, May 02, 2011

Telling it like it is

"There are really only a few organizations that make use of tents: circuses, flea markets and churches...and sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference." ~Jeff Watts