The Accidental House Hunt

Josh and I had a plan. A good plan. A plan we both fell confident about. A plan that didn’t involve buying another house for 2-3 years.

And then my girlfriend emailed me this…

Oh my gosh Mary!! A house with trees on an acre in Keller for $XXX,000! That’s crazy. An acre with no house goes for $XXX,000 ($30,000 less) in Keller. AND it’s three minutes from the church- if that! You’d have some work to do to update, but you’d have immediate equity to draw on at that price.

Just sayin’

Me - taking pictures to contemplate the updating to be done in the first house.

See me in the mirror? I’m taking pictures to contemplate the updating I want to do.

I looked up the property and my girlfriend was so right. It was such a great find! It was too good to pass up. Josh and I chatted and decided to veer from the plan.

We went to see the house. It needed A LOT of love to get in ready for us to live in, including some foundation work and an addition to make it big enough to fit our growing family. We ran the numbers, and the house was such a great deal that, even with the money we would put into it, we couldn’t let it go.

We put a contract on the house!

Benjamin posing in the first house.

Benjamin posing while we looked at the house.

A short while later we heard there were multiple offers. We responded with our best offer and waited. Waited for FIVE DAYS. Five long days, praying all the while that God’s Will be done. We certainly can’t see the future, so, even though this seemed like a great opportunity for us, we begged that God take it away if it wasn’t what was best for our family.

And He did. We didn’t get the house. We were outbid.

We had mixed emotions, but there was definitely relief mixed in with all of the other emotions. We just had a massive, multi-year project taken off our plate. We decided to stick with our previous plan. The good plan. The plan that we were both comfortable with. The plan that didn’t involve buying a house for a few more years.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

My Benjamin inspecting the first house.

A few days later, I looked up the property again. I don’t know why. I guess for closure or something. While I was on, I stumbled across a different property. It was listed for significantly more than the first property, but it was on 2 acres and in MUCH better condition than the first house. So I fired off this email:


I know this is waaay more than we were planning on spending. And maybe it’s way more than we could ever justify spending…

But take a look at this property. It’s got EVERYTHING: land, location, space, pond… It’s crazy!

It needs to be updated, and, obviously, we wouldn’t have the money to do it right away, but it’s just dated, so we could take our time.

What do you think??

Josh responded quickly and, next thing we knew, we had a showing lined up. While we were there, one of our realtors suggested that we check out one other property that matched what we are looking for…

SOooo, low and behold, here we are – in the middle of an accidental house hunt.


Food Favorites Vol. 2

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I took this picture for a post I never wrote on our family blog. The kids were baffled that shredded cheese could be made from their beloved blocks of cheese.

It’s been more than a year since the first edition of our family food favorites, so I figured it was time for an update. There are a couple things on that list we don’t purchase at all anymore, like frozen pizza & breakfast cereal, somethings that have fallen out of favor, like our blender applesauce, and other items that are still in high demand. So, without further ado, here are some things that we simply can’t run out of at our house:

  1. Nutella. Need I say more? I don’t know why I we waited so long to give this a try.
  2. Tortillas. Sometimes I wonder if the checkout person at Costco will ask if we’re having some kind of party based on how many tortillas we buy. We get corn and flour. Burrito sized and taco sized. They get used round the clock. The flour tortillas are technically a transgression against our dietary standards, but it’s one of the few. As Josh always reminds me, life is about balance, not extremes.
  3. Bananas.
  4. Dried Fruit. This is Ben’s favorite; he asks for it constantly. Costco has a great line of dried fruit that is pretty much just fruit and some sugar. He usually eats it plain in a bowl, but sometimes we mix it into yogurt or make trail mix.
  5. Milk. We all love milk.
  6. Carnation Instant Breakfast. Also a transgression. But sometimes we just need a quick vitamin-infused, protein boost in the form of chocolatey yumminess, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
  7. Granola. We keep three varieties to appease my hungry beasts. Different granolas for different moods, I suppose.
  8. Jack showing off his egg. They fight about who gets to crack the egg when we cook.

    Jack showing off his egg. They fight about who gets to crack the egg when we cook.


  9. Nuts. Current favorites are salted cashews and an unsalted mix that has pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and probably some other stuff.
  10. Ham. Or “hammy” as it is loving referred to by Leila. Ham steaks or, recently, Canadian bacon. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or a quick protein pick me up.
  11. Black beans. I cook with these A LOT. Soups, tacos, casseroles, you name it, I probably put black beans in it.
  12. Cheese. String cheese for snacks. Blocks of cheese for lunch. Shredded cheese for recipes. We love cheese.
  13. Greek yogurt. We have to ration them to one per day per kid or they just fly off the shelf.
  14. Chocolate covered almonds. This is my little treat. When I’m stressed or just want some chocolate, nothing hits the spot like my chocolate covered almonds and a big glass of milk. The kids love them, but I hoard them for myself.
  15. Eggs. We always need eggs.


Listening for God’s Voice

This brief little conversation over dinner absolutely melted my heart. I am so thrilled to know that my sweet little ones are already seeking God’s plan for their lives.

Me: Hey, Jack, Andy thinks Ben would like to be a priest. Do you think Ben will be a priest?

Jack:…probably not.

Me: Would you like to be a priest?

Jack: Well…I don’t know what God wants me to be because I can’t exactly hear his voice. It’s too quite. I think because Heaven is so far away…you know God is so way up high…I can’t exactly hear Him when I’m outside playing or in the house.

Me: That is wonderful that you’re listening for God’s voice. If you keep listening, you will hear what He wants you to be.

Andy: And, “alsoly”, Jack, Fr. Hart said that if you go in your room in the quiet without the tv or radio on, you will be able to hear God’s voice.

Me: That is exactly right! Fr. Hart did say that. (High five Andy)

Just a note: It’s was months ago when (now) Msgr. Hart gave that homily on vocations and being open to God’s plan for your life. I didn’t even realize that Andy was listening, let alone that Msgr’s words were still with him! It’s amazing what little ones pick up on!

Thank you, God, that my children are open to and seeking your will for their lives. Please grant that their hearts remain open as they grow, and that their wills will be perfectly conformed to yours. In Jesus name, Amen.   

Andy & Jack Signing at Lunch

The big boys have been really interested in signing ever since they saw the Duggar kids signing with Josie. The boys and I are learning some signs so we can teach Ben. It’s been a fun project. The boys really seem to enjoy that we’re all learning something new together. We were practicing over lunch today and recorded it to show my mom (Nonnie) who has taken several ASL classes recently. (Too bad I didn’t realize I needed to turn my phone sideways to video properly! Oops)

Quick Takes: A Family Update

Once again, I’ve neglected and abandoned my blog. It’s a good think I don’t treat our gardens the same way I do my little space on the web.  Both for the sake of time and for lack of anything important or interesting to say, I thought I’d do my first ever “quick takes” entry.

1. After a lengthy hiatus, we’re back on the DIY/home improvement bandwagon. I, for one, am thrilled. I just can’t get enough of working in the yard. Sadly, our yard is small, and most projects are quickly completed. I desperately want to extend our patio and add some stone retaining walls to our beds, but I don’t yet have the confidence to tackle those projects myself or the budget to hire them out. Alas, I stick to simple gardening and the likes. Inside, I just bought new paint to cover the “turkey puke” I pasted all over our living room and foyer. While I can’t wait to get the new paint on the walls, neither my hubby nor I are thrilled about painting. It’s definitely not a project that either of us enjoy.

2. We’ve officially made the decision to homeschool and we’re not turning back. I’ve been waffling back and forth for over a year now. Laughably, one of my biggest fears all along was what people would think/say when they found out. I felt like so much about our little family was already off the beaten path, and I knew that announcing we were homeschooling would officially make us weirdos. I’m finally getting a little more confident about sharing this information, as evidenced by this public announcement. Weirdos or not, this is what we believe is best for our family.

3. Despite my dislike and distrust of too much tv time, the addition of a DVR in our home has resulted in some new tv addictions on my part. Some are embarrassing, like American Idol and Teen Mom 2, some are late, like The Office, and some are just hysterical like Police Women of ___________. Luckily, Josh has never taken issue with vegging out in front of the idiot box, so he’s happy to accommodate my new-found fascinations in the evening.

4. I’m in love with my job, but I literally don’t have time to breathe. And adjusting to both parents working is a topic for another entry. Maybe even a series of them. Being a mom that works outside of the home, I am now more convinced than ever that the ideal situation is for mom to be at home with the kids. But, for whatever reason, Josh and I are both wholeheartedly convinced that the Lord put me in this position and would like me to stay there for the time being. We’re both curious to see just how long the “time being” actually is.

5. Ben is ENORMOUS! He’s nearly 10 months old! I truly don’t know where the time has gone. He got his fourth tooth today, but only having four doesn’t slow him down at all. He will literally eat anything I eat. Of course, most of it requires a little modification to make it safe for him, but he inhales it all. Despite the fact that he routinely out-eats me, he’s only in the tenth percentile for weight. The doctor doesn’t like that at all, but I could care less. He’s happy, healthy and meeting his developmental milestones. Who cares how he stacks up against the other kids his age? That being said, he’s in the 95 percentile for height. Maybe we’ll be traveling to watch him play in the Final Four one day!

6. Speaking of Final Fours, this year was such a waste! Worst. Game. Ever.

7. I’ve been a total slacker this Lent. I chose my Lenten sacrifice and I’ve stuck with it, but I haven’t really opened myself up to big spiritual growth like I did last year. There’s sill time to though…and it’s not like Lent is the only time to grow spiritually… I don’t mean to sound nonchalant, because I’m not at all. As I so often do, I’m just rationalizing my shortcomings. It’s easier to deal with that way, right?

8. I’ve been on the hunt for cute, modest, flattering swimwear. It’s impossible! I have no desire to be covered completely from neck to knee on the beach, but I also have no desire to be fully revealed either. Surely there must be another option besides being naked, wearing the same bathing suit as my grandmother, and swimming in sweatsuits??

Well, things are beginning to unravel here, a clear sign that Mommy’s attention has been diverted for a few minutes too long, so that’s it for now. Have a great weekend everyone!


After Ben cam home, and even in the hospital, Josh and I kept commenting about how quickly I seemed to be recovering. For the first time, I spent most of my last day in the hospital on my feet or in the rocking chair instead of in bed. We even had an out-of-town house guest before Ben was three weeks old. Of course I was exhausted, but not in pain or even in poor spirits. In fact, from the minute he arrived, after the most painful, yet quickest, delivery I’ve ever experienced, I was in a state of absolute bliss. I was happy to meet all my boys, but this was different.  I attributed all of this to my new doctor. I thought for sure she must have done something differently. It didn’t take long for me to discover that, although I love my doctor, it wasn’t anything she did; it was just God’s plan. He had a project lined up for me, and my normal, slow recovery would have prevented me from getting on board.

On August 13, I accepted a job that I interviewed for on the 9th and applied for on the 6th. From the time I first saw the posting through the conversation when I heard myself accepting the position, I was in my own personal (yet obviously less significant) Garden of Gethsemane. I didn’t want to go to work. I feel sorry for moms who think they have to work outside the home. I had my whole family-raising plan mapped out in a beautiful mural in my mind. But we all know what they say about God laughing while we make plans….

I knew from the moment I read the posting that God was calling me to apply. I kept trying to forget about it, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. And, as Josh so astutely pointed out, I’ve seen many job postings over the years that I’m well qualified for, but none have haunted me the way this one did. I spent a lot of time in prayer, mostly telling God I didn’t want it. I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself and my husband of all the millions of reasons why we couldn’t justify my leaving the home. I didn’t know what to do, so I applied for the position. I told myself that I would interview and not get the position. Then, I would know wholeheartedly that I had misunderstood what the Lord was saying to me. I reasoned that doing so would keep me from feeling guilty, since at this point I had convinced myself that there was no way God would ask me to work outside of our home.

As I spent more time in prayer, my prayers changed from “I don’t want it. Don’t ask me to do it.” to “I don’t want it. Don’t ask me to do it. But, Lord, I want to do your Will.” Funny how God works on our hearts like that… I just kept repeating Jeremiah 29:11 to myself, trying to remind myself that God’s Will for me was best, despite what it may look like to me. Meditating on that verse, Jesus’ passion, and Mary’s “yes” to the God through the angel Gabriel were all that kept me going. I was so stressed out. I did not want to leave my boys. I did not want to leave them in the care of someone else. I did not want any more responsibilities than those I already had.

But as I’ve already given away, the position was offered to me and I said yes. I know I’m perfect for this job. I never once questioned my qualifications and abilities. My whole life, educationally, professionally and personally, has prepared me for this position. I know if I interviewed me, I would have hired me too. I don’t say this to toot my own horn, but I am truly an asset to our parish. I am so humbled by and grateful for the opportunity that lays before me. It’s a huge responsibility, but I’m happy to take it on, challenges and all.

Josh and I are doing our best to adjust at home. Luckily, my hours are flexible, and we belong to a church that values life, so the kids aren’t so much of a problem. They’ve been up at my office many times when I’m supposed to be working. Right now, we don’t have a weekend, or even a single day off, together. If I’m at work, Josh is at home and vice versa. The exception is Wednesdays when we both go to work. We just hired an amazing babysitter and the boys love her. Leaving them with her was a little tough for me, but knowing how happy they were about playing with her made it so much easier.

I have no idea where this path will lead. And it’s definitely put a big hole in my mural. But as God keeps reminding me, He’s in charge. Not such an easy lesson for this control freak to swallow.

Just Another Day in Paradise

I can hear Ben starting to make noise in his crib, conveniently placed a few feet from the foot of my bed. The clock slowly comes into focus. 6:44 AM. I’ve been asleep for a little more than 3 hours. I realize I feel like I haven’t peed in years. My bedroom door starts to cautiously open. “Mommy?” It’s Jack. “I’m wet.” Ben’s quiet fussing has escalated to high pitched wailing. We’re still out of coffee creamer. Good morning, Mary. It’s just another day in paradise.