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Monday, January 31, 2011

HELP!!

For anyone that knows anything about Disneyworld, or the Orlando area in general...

We need help planning our vacation that is coming up very quickly for this uncharacteristically poor-planning mom.  We will be staying at a nice place with lots of pools, so we plan on spending a lot of time swimming.

We are going to the Magic Kingdom for one day only because it's going to cost us about $500 for our family of six - ouch!  Lisa gave me the heads up about the Fast Pass to use when we're in the park..thanks!


A co-worker just told me to go to The Kennedy Space Center (which the boys will love) because there will be a launch on one of the days we are down there.  That sounds very cool.


What else is there to do that is cheap and family friendly?  Any advice, from where to eat to where to shop to where to visit to how to easily navigate the park would be much appreciated.  We want to make this a fun family trip that doesn't wipe out our savings completely :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why We Choose Catholic Schools

For Catholic School's Week, Phil and I were asked to give a talk after Mass about why we chose to send our kids to Catholic school.  Since I can NOT publicly speak without hyperventilating, I agreed to write the talk and have Phil give it.  Here it is (from Phil's point of view):

Before my wife and I even had children, we talked a lot about their futures.  We discussed how we wanted to raise our children, what kind of education we hoped they received, and what kind of people we hoped they would grow up to be.   It’s funny now to look back on all those visions we had, and see how different reality can be!  But the one thing that has remained constant was our dreams for education.  We wanted our children to attend the best academic program we could find, a place where discipline and respect were expected in order to create an ordered, peaceful, and safe place to learn. 
We also envisioned a learning environment that was small enough to allow faculty and staff to truly get to know each child individually.  A school where preschoolers can walk down the hall and be greeted with smiles and hellos from the big eighth graders.  A student body that feels like family away from home, where the kids look out for one another, and can even pray together.  We have found all of this in a Catholic school, right here near our home.
We now have four children attending Catholic school, and we are committed to continuing their education there until they are old enough to go to the Catholic High School, where I teach Theology.  We personally know the struggles of affording a Catholic education (I just mentioned I was a Catholic school teacher, didn’t I??), but we also can see that the many rewards far outweigh the financial sacrifice.  We are so lucky to live in this area where the great competition of Catholic elementary schools keeps the cost of education relatively low.  Sending three of our children to preschool and Kindergarten costs less than sending one baby to daycare for the year!  Plus, there are financial aid scholarships available from the Diocese, and participating members of Catholic parishes can receive assistance from their Pastor as well.  We know the importance of a great education, and we are willing to do what it takes to give this gift to our children.
                As parents, our duty in this life is to do all we can to get our children to Heaven in the next life.  Why give them an education at the risk of having them lose their faith when we can give them an amazing academic start and allow them to grow in their faith at the same time?  Our preschoolers come home from school singing songs about loving Jesus as if that were as normal as singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.   Our Kindergartner, after learning about Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams, wrote that he dreamed of a day when public schools can teach about God.  Our second grader takes such pride in his academic work, and is being prepared so thoroughly for his First Communion later this year. 
While we feel that parents should be the primary educators in the matters of religion, why not get the help and support you need from a place where our children spend most of their waking hours?  We strongly encourage all of you parents to attend an open house or take a tour of a Catholic school and see for yourself the difference it could make in your child’s life.  Thank you for your time and God Bless!
               

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hi Lo: January 28th

HI:

I made this list!
(Thanks Tina for letting me know)

LO:

You have to scroll waaaaaaay down to see my name ;)

It also makes me feel like I should be writing posts with a little more substance....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Martin Family Moments

1) Maggie kept her pull-up dry all night!  FINALLY!!  She's been totally potty-trained all day since she was 2 1/2 but still peed at night.  We bribed her with the promise of one M&M in the morning if she kept it dry, and it worked.  Maybe we'll have a teeny tiny break in between now and the next baby where we don't have to buy any diapers/pull-ups.

2) In the morning, if I'm running late, the big boys take the littles into school to their classrooms.  They are such good big brothers, helping their little preschool siblings hang up their jackets and backpacks, take out their lunch bag and put their paperwork in the bins. 
I love that they take pride in being the big helpers for Mom...sometimes they do act like little Saints:

3) This is a sad one, but yesterday morning, Eamon got all teary-eyed in the car when I was unbuckling him from his car seat, and said "Mom, when John-Paul doesn't (un)buckle me....it breaks my heart.  It really does."  Just hearing my little munchkin use that phrase broke my heart :(

4) Baby names - the kids are so involved in this pregnancy!  It's so fun.  They still like Sarah and Patrick, but we also have votes for Michael, Boo, Spongebob and Squidward. 
Ummmm, no.

5) Eamon gets "bigger" and "older" confused and uses them interchangeably.  He told me that because I was the biggest (oldest) in the family, I was going to die first, then Dad, then J-P, then Andrew...and on and on down the line.  I told him that we die whenever God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.  And he told me that "we only go to Heaven if we're good.  And Heaven is the number one funnest place ever!  But if we're naughty, we go to Hell."  How does a four year old know that already?

6) The kids have become quite a bit less picky with their eating habits as of late.  We have always tricked them by hiding veggies in their food, but now they are much more willing to try things.  One thing that has helped is telling them after their birthdays, that they are {insert age} now, and that means they like it.  it's non-sensible, but it works.  Maggie eats pizza and cheeseburgers since she's turned three, just because we told her she likes it now :)

 7) The countdown to February vacation (Florida) is a daily ritual.  They are BEYOND excited, which I'm so happy about because it will probably be the only time we get the chance to go.  In case you were wondering, only 25 days to go until we can see a REAL princess (no offense Cinderella from Storyland, NH)!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why Obesity is On the Rise

We took the kids to the grocery store this weekend.  We seem to always go as a family, even though afterwards I wonder why I don't just go by myself.  Ah well, the kids love it!

We saw these for $4.99 per quart:


and these for $1.50 with a coupon taped to every package for $1.00 off...making them only $0.50:
Guess which one the kids wanted?

These:


Guess which ones we bought?

These:




Now, I have to say, we did buy green apples, red apples, oranges, grapes, blackberries, a pineapple, bananas, and blueberries.  So the kids are not lacking for fresh fruit.  But still, what a pity that you can buy such crappy food so cheaply, and the healthy choices cost so much. 

It's an American shame.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Being Pro-Life in Everyday Life

January 22nd marked the anniversary or Roe v. Wade, which was the fateful day when the killing of innocent babies in their mother’s wombs became legalized.  As a faithful Catholic, and more importantly, mother (of soon-to-be five children), abortion disgusts, horrifies, and saddens me greatly.  Our parish priest is calling us to fast today in cooperation with the March for Life, offering up our hunger and cravings for the souls of everyone involved in abortions.
My husband teaches at  a Catholic high school that has sent two full buses of students to the March for Life in Washington D.C., an eight hour drive each way.  I too have participated in the March for Life a couple times in D.C., as well as once in Boston, MA.  But, now with four young children, a full-time job, and a baby on the way, I find myself asking “What can I do?” to support the cause.  Sure, marches are a great way to publicly let lawmakers know how we feel about the sanctity of life, but they are not always an option.  So how do we get the word out?
I think Mother Theresa said it best when she said, “None of us can do anything great on our own, but we can all do a small thing with great love.”  We need to convey our love for the unborn by whatever small acts we can do in our daily lives.  This doesn’t mean we should use our busyness or to-do list as an excuse to do as little as possible, but instead  do the best we can and realize that all the small steps do add up.
My husband and I have taken our family to pray at the last-standing abortion clinic in our Diocese a couple of times.  The clinic is about an hour’s drive, and our children are small enough that we don’t really want them to truly know what abortion is yet (to preserve their innocence while we can), so we definitely don’t go as often as we should for these reasons.  But, we do teach them that we are called to love ALL life that God creates – no matter the size, shape, color, gender, handicap, religion, or age.  And when we think about that, we can easily come up with a list of how to be pro-life in our everyday lives. 
We can donate money, items, or time to the woman’s pregnancy crisis center, the local nursing homes, the homeless shelters, the food pantry, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the list goes on and on.  We can take a stance on respecting life with every single vote we cast in elections at all levels.  We can write to our political leaders urging them to make pro-life issues a priority, or gently explaining our view with pro-choice candidates.  We can offer babysitting services to mothers of many who could use a helping hand.  We can give a smile to a stranger we pass in the street, not knowing if that will be the only sign of affection they receive all day.  We can listen when we converse, giving others our full attention and respect.  We can bring a meal to a mom of a newborn or a person suffering with health problems.  We can be generous in our own fertility, showing the world that we are grateful for the gifts of life God chooses to bestow upon us.  My pastor once told me that my pregnancy was like preaching a long pro-life homily! 
Of course, above all we can pray.  Prayer is something that we can do all day long, and not just using words.  We can pray through our actions – by fasting, putting a family member’s needs before our own, or responding lovingly even when we don’t feel like it.  Any act that shows we respect life is pro-life.  So don’t worry about making the big public displays which may be far and few between, focus instead on the small, private acts that can happen daily if we only let them. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hi Lo: First One in 2011!



HI's:

1) I just bought two pairs of maternity pants from Old Navy.  You would think I would have enough maternity clothes by now, but I don't know where they all go.  Anyway, back to the new pants...they are a maternity size 4.  Yes, that's FOUR.  I've never been a size 4 in all my life!  I seriously went from a size 2 in eighth grade to a size 8 in ninth grade.  I might just have to stay pregnant forever so I can say I'm a size 4 :)

2) More snow! We woke up to check the school closings, and there was nothing for anyone in our family.  Phil got ready for work, and just as he was leaving the house, I found out my school was closed!  Ahhhh, a day to myself!  Then Phil left and came home a minute later after receiving word that his school was closed.  Yay, a date day!  Twenty minutes later, we learned the kid's school was closed!  So no alone time, no romantic time, but lots of family time!

3) I've been doing pretty good on my eating/exercising this pregnancy.  I would say about five days a week I am able to exercise, and eat healthy (Abs Diet style) and then the other two days, it all goes to pot and I eat whatever I want and try to be as inactive as possible :)

4) We have not had a sickness spread through our house yet this school year.  I probably just jinxed myself, but I am so grateful that everyone has been healthy and able to work/go to school like normal.

LO's:

1) Like Abe Lincoln said "I can not tell a lie".  I have not been making up how big my baby bump is, no matter what you all think.  Here's proof:

2) Full moon behavior around home this week.  Argh.

3) I have been hearing too many cancer diagnoses in the past week.  Why can't we find a cure?  Could it be because we are killing the babies that were supposed to grow up to discover one?

What about you all?  What were your ups and downs this week?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Poem I Wrote in Third Grade

I love to eat fresh apple pie,
I love to watch the birds fly by.

I love the smell of the sea,
I love the buzz of the bumblebee.

I love my mom's homemade food,
But her split pea soup is very rude.

(My teacher loved that last part, and my fun-loving mother still loves to remind me of the awful things I said about her soup.  Ironically, it's one of my favorites now!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook (a day late, but who's counting?)

Outside my window...

...rain/sleet/snow.  It was a messy commute this morning.  I saw a car spun out in the middle of the highway, and people were driving 40 mph instead of 60.  Needless to say I was about 7 minutes late for work.  Luckily my boss is always about a half hour late :)



I am thinking...

...about a mom of twins in John-Paul's class.  She is suffering from a very rare type of cancer, and has gone through chemo and in March she will be getting a very new type of surgery that will be putting liquid chemo directly inside her body around her organs.  She is about my age, smart, healthy, normal mom and it's just so sad.  She is constantly on my mind and in my prayers.



I am thankful for...

...the health of everyone in our family.  Because in this world, nothing else matters.


From the kitchen...

...Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and apple crisp.  Mmmmm.



I am wearing...

...Brown maternity pants, a pink paisley blouse and cream cardigan.  This blouse hides Baby Boo well.



I am creating...

...a baby.  And a Blog Book for 2010.



I am going...

...to the gym tonight for my favorite kickboxing class!



I am reading...

...Motherless for a review that hopefully will be coming soon.  It's very good, I just can't find the time to finish it without falling asleep. (Yup, same as last week)



I am hoping...

...that Maggie keeps saying "kindult" for adult and Eamon keeps calling a table a "tavle".  To which, of course, Maggie corrects him.  Nothing like having a bossy little know-it-all for a sister :)



I am hearing...

...country music on the radio.  Why does it always make me cry?




Around the house...

...we had a nice long weekend at home.  We watched the Patriots lose (can you believe it?) with some friends and then had my parents over for dinner another night.  Andrew had a basketball game, and John-Paul sang in the choir for a Mass that will be on tv in a couple weeks.



One of my favorite things...

...vacation!  We are counting down until our Florida trip next month!  My parents leave this week to drive down to FL for their monthly stay.  Must be nice ;)



A few plans for the rest of the week:

~Babysitting a niece and nephew
~Another weekend of playoff games.  I may just boycott now that the Pats are out.


Here is picture for thought I am sharing:
 (Where we'll be staying in Orlando!!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Maggie's Future Career

Nurse Midwife!

She says everything is good, but I did need one shot to be healthy. 

Whatever it takes ;)

And this is not the best picture of my Baby Bump (whom the kids have affectionately nicknamed Baby Boo), but you can sort of see how big I am at 12 weeks.

Like I said, whatever it takes to make a healthy baby!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Old Friend

An old friend has just resurfaced in my life.  This friend comes and goes through the years, and when he's around, he's the most faithful, supportive, and comforting guy I know.  In between his appearances, I forget about him completely, but as soon as he's back, I remember just how much I love him. 


Of course, Phil is completely, insanely jealous of this guy.  He feels that my friend gets in the way of our relationship.  I admit he does come between us at times, but I just sleep so much better when he's in my life.  Besides, it's really Phil's fault that I need to rely on my friend so much anyway:

 Can't you just sense his relaxing persona?  He makes me want to cuddle up to him right now, and I'm so not a cuddler.
Thanks for the support my faithful friend.  I'll be laying leaning on you for the next six months or so, and then it's back to the closet you go :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We Love Peter Kreeft

If you've never heard of Peter Kreeft, you must read his books on philosophy, Catholicism, and plain old common sense.  He's our modern day G.K. Chesterton.  He teaches Philosophy at Boston College because he's too Catholic to teach Theology (go figure) and so we've been lucky enough to hear him speak twice, and he always makes so much sense.  He's deep in his thoughts but presents it in a clear and simple way so that non-theologians like me can understand!

Phil likes him because he says things like:

"If you place [your bet] with God, you lose nothing, even if it turns out that God does not exist. But if you place it against God, and you are wrong and God does exist, you lose everything."

and

"America does not know the difference between money and sex. It treats sex like money because it treats sex as a medium of exchange, and it treats money like sex because it expects its money to get pregnant and reproduce."

And I like him because he says things like:

"Only in a world where faith is difficult can faith exist."

and the humorous

"Cats don't need to be possessed; they're evil on their own."

For more quotes and a great, easy read, I highly recommend this book.  We keep it in our bathroom (TMI??) and every time I skim through it, I get something so valuable from it.  You won't be disappointed!


And no, I'm not getting paid to review this book, I just love it that much :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...

...cold winds.  We are hoping for a Nor'easter on Tues night.  I say hoping because we both work at schools that may close.  Yay!!




I am thinking...

...about the interview I saw of the parents of the nine-year-old girl who was killed in Tucson on Saturday.  That whole tragedy is so sad, but the parents gave an interview the day after their daughter died, and were so calm and emotionless.  I only hope they were heavily sedated because there's no way you would find me on tv the day after one of my children were killed.




I am thankful for...

...no more nausea these past few days!  I feel normal again :) I am eating better and exercising again.  Ah, God is good!



From the kitchen...

...Tonight will be homemade tomato soup and garlic bread, not very healthy but definitely yummy!




I am wearing...

...Gray Maternity pants and a black sweater. People are noticing the baby bump now.




I am creating...

...a baby.  A boy I'm thinking.




I am going...

...to start working soon.  Blech!




I am reading...

...Motherless for a review that hopefully will be coming soon.  It's very good, I just can't find the time to finish it without falling asleep.



I am hoping...

...that Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) gets really really huge with her 4th pregnancy.  What??  Misery loves company :)




I am hearing...

...a co-worker counting cash, the printer, and students walking by outside.





Around the house...

...we put all of our Christmas decorations away this weekend, and while I love the decorations, I also just love the look and feel of a clean and clutter free home!




One of my favorite things...

...how Eamon and Maggie tell me I'm the best mom EVER!




A few plans for the rest of the week:

~A snowstorm
~Order my blog book for 2010
~Send in my gym receipts to my health insurance company to get my $150 reimbursement for the year.



Here is picture for thought I am sharing:
None because my really expensive nice camera is not working - argh!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Receiving Gifts Gracefully

I wear my heart on my sleeve, as the saying goes.  I can not hide my true feelings, and I tend to speak my mind first, then worry about the consequences later.  This sometimes gets me in trouble, and my husband tells me I need a filter, but it's just in my personality to be honest and transparent.  

One area that I really need to work on is when it comes to receiving gifts.  Since I know that I tend to show disappointment easily, I try to opt out of opening gifts in front of people.  I am not great at faking a "Thank you, I love it!"  remark when I open an ugly sweater, and since I never know what's in the box, I would rather open it in private.  Even when I do love the gift (which is most of the time) I feel like I need to overemphasize my love for it, and that too tends to look fake.  Receiving gifts is very hard for me.  It's odd because I LOVE to give gifts (it's the way I show my love in the five love languages) and I love watching people open a gift that I know they will appreciate.  So why do I want to take that joy away from them?

I was reflecting on how unnatural and ungraceful I am at receiving material gifts, and I realized that it extends over to problems receiving the immaterial gifts God has bestowed unto me.  Oh sure, when God blessed me with the most fabulous husband on Earth, I was thrilled!  And when the best little kids I've ever known were born to me, I couldn't have been happier.  But when I realized very early on in our marriage that God had given me the gift of uber-fertility, a gift that so many woman gladly embrace and crave, I had mixed emotions.  Why was it so easy for me to get pregnant?  Why did the babies come even when we were trying to space them out through Natural Family Planning?  Why were we having so many children, so fast, when money is always tight and I am forced to work?  Phil and I joke that he just has to look at me and BOOM, pregnant again ;) 

In the past, I have felt like I need to "fake it" through our pregnancy announcements.  "Oh yes, I'm super happy about being pregnant for the fourth time in four years...who wouldn't be?" and "Babies are such a blessing, especially when they are up all night, scream all day, and generally test every ounce of my being".  I couldn't say these things to anyone but the closest friends/family because I felt I had the responsibility to be a shining light in this world.  To be a wonderful example of embracing God's Will and accepting children with grace.  Having four young children always made me feel like we were being watched, judged, and looked down upon.  People have said so many hurtful things to our faces that I have no idea what is being said behind our backs.  We've gotten the comments like "You know what causes that, right?", "You must be crazy/insane!", "Better you than me!", "How are you going to afford college?", and Phil has even gotten the "Give your wife a break" comments.  When people ask me if we want more, I never know how to respond because I feel I can never say we're done, since four out of the five pregnancies have been surprises, so who knows what the future holds? 

After having the fourth baby, and we had a long break between pregnancies (three years) I have finally been able to accept the gift of fertility God has given us.  I finally felt like we were working with God in His plan, and not being just mere pawns in some crazy production game.  I don't fight it anymore, because with a clear and well-rested head, I can see how God's plan really is best.  If I hadn't conceived these babies at exactly the moments I did, they wouldn't be here, and I couldn't bear the thought of that.  Now if I ever catch myself feeling that we have too many kids, Phil jokingly asks me which one I'd like to give back, and we laugh at how absurd that would be.  Along with the gift of fertility, God has also given me many opportunities to grow in patience, humility, selflessness, and love.  It took lots of prayer and maturing on my part, but I've finally accepted these gifts joyfully!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Working Towards a Healthy Mom and Baby

  I am gaining weight way too fast for it to be “just baby weight”.  I know that I have been slacking off on the exercise, because I don’t feel 100% and I am so tired that all I want to do is sleep.  And I know that I’ve been eating a lot more than I normally do, because having a full belly is the only way I don’t throw up feel good.  Add the holidays to the mix and my cravings for carbs and fats, and it’s been a complete disaster.  I want to post a picture to show you how big I am already at only ten stinkin’ weeks, but I just don’t have the guts. 
     I’ve decided that I need to stop focusing on the weight gain and unhealthy choices I’m making and focus instead on eating healthy for myself and the baby.  Starting today, I am basically following the Abs Diet but making sure I’m eating enough calories for the baby.  I’m not trying to lose weight (duh, that would be impossible!), I am just trying to pick the right foods.

 
   So today is Day 1 (and yes, I know that it’s already the 4th of January, but tardiness and procrastination have become part of my life recently).  The diet plan is easy to follow, I’ve had success with it in the past, and it just makes sense.  You eat six small portions of healthy foods with one cheat meal a week.  You exercise, focusing mostly on weight training and interval spurts of cardio.  I’m not even going to attempt exercising until I hit the 12 week mark, hoping that that will be the point I feel “up to it”.
   A typical day in the diet will be:
Breakfast: Kashi  GoLean Crunch with soymilk
Snack: Berries and a cheese stick
Lunch: Sandwich on whole wheat bread with veggies
Snack: Apple with Almond Butter
Dinner: Chicken/Fish and Veggies or another small healthy meal
Snack: Greek yogurt, frozen fruit and milk smoothie
Plus, I’ll be drinking green tea, decaf iced tea, and lots of water.
It all adds up to about 1800 calories a day (1500 for me and 300 for the baby) and it seems do-able, so let’s see how long it lasts!  Anybody want to join in?

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Letter to the Old Me

Dear Colleen from 2010,
    First, I must say how wonderful you look!  You won't believe me because you can't take a compliment, but you look fit and well-rested and healthy.  You set your mind to completing your first half-marathon in March of 2010, and you surprised yourself with how well you did.  You finally seem to have it all together - marriage, children, work, health.  Good for you!  Because all that's about to change.  At the end of the year. you will learn that you are pregnant with your fifth child and will immediately become tired, flabby,and cranky.  So enjoy this time now while you can.
    Secondly, you know how you always worry about when or if you should have another baby?  STOP! All that worrying is a big waste of time.  Because God is in charge and you will be expecting a new baby sooner than you thought.  And you know what else, you will be 100% happy about it.  For real!  All those concerns you have about childcare, morning sickness, fitting all 5 children in the car, and timing it best with work, will all melt away.  Fitting five car seats in the car - no need....John-Paul will be 8 and won't need to be in one any longer.  Morning sickness - not an issue this time around (at least not enough to stop you from what you should be doing).  Childcare - a beloved friend will offer to take care of your baby for you while you work, so that you can help her out with a way to stay at home and earn money.  Timing - well, if we waited for the perfect time to get pregnant, nobody would ever have a baby!  Besides, July is nice and warm and Phil will be home for a month before school starts up again.  God has always provided for you, and He will continue to do so.  Amazing, huh?
    You know that job of yours that took away sick days and holiday pay?  They also didn't give anyone a raise for the year?  Well, try and remind yourself that even though those perks were hard to lose, you actually did enjoy your job.  Don't be so quick to leave in search of greener pastures, sometimes those pastures are full of manure.
    Finally, remember that ten year anniversary trip to Hawaii you've been saving for? Well, with a new baby coming and economic times still tough, you probably won't be able to swing it.  But, don't fret, I hear going for the 25th Anniversary makes it even more special :)
     Good luck in 2011.  Trust your judgement, listen to your wise husband, spend every moment possible with the best little kids on Earth (they just so happen to live in your house), and pray that God keeps on taking care of things in the future just as He has in the past.