Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mom's Day Away in Review

Oh my, how do I even attempt to sum up such a wonderful day?  Words will not do it justice, but I'll try my best.  I'm even skipping my self-mandated Sunday afternoon nap to bring you this update.

You're welcome :)

Well, let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start.

On Friday my awesome friend IBL (In Blog Land) and IRL (In Real Life), Lisa, flew up to visit.  She just really wanted to see me.  And perhaps, attend the Mom's Day Away hosted by Faith and Family Live.  I'm not really sure why she came, but she brought cookies and had me at hello!  Though it was more like "HELLO!!!  Ahhhh, so great to see you!!!"  She's friendly like that.

We talked the night away (well until 10:30 when I was about to pass out from exhaustion) and boy does she have amazing stories to tell.  She has lived through more crazy experiences than anyone I know - what a hoot!  On Saturday morning we woke up early (Lisa was amazed that our kids woke up at 5:30 am - no need for an alarm clock!) picked up another friend and headed to Stoneham, MA.  It was just over an hour drive.  St. Patrick's Church was BEAUTIFUL.  Go here to see pictures of the place.

There was an hour for registration and coffee/pastries first thing in the morning.  As soon as we walked into the main room, I spotted Kate Wicker (Momopoly), and yelled out, "Kate Wicker!" and luckily she recognized me, and gave me a hug.  Our pregnant bellies bumped :)  I was so excited to see a "celebrity" blogger and soon-to-be author (her first book is due out August 1st), and she was so nice and friendly and just so great.

My friends spotted out Danielle Bean, whom at first I didn't even recognize because she was so teeny!  I ran up to her to say hello, and this is what came out:

Geesh, I'm real smooth when I get super excited!  She was so gracious and even signed my copy of her book that I had brought. 
As she was signing it, she said, "I know're Colleen from Martin Family Moments!"  I was floored, how could my hero know me?  Does Justin Bieber know my adoring niece?  Does Julio Iglesius know my smitten mother?  Does Peter Kreeft know my idolizing husband?  No!  But Danielle Bean knew me!!  I'm sure someone tipped her off as to who I was, but don't tell me.  I want to live in this fantasy world for a few more days :)

Then we took this picture:

 Lisa, Kate Wicker, Danielle Bean, and a very-pregnant-me!
(And yes, Lisa and I were dressed as identical twins!)

 This was Danielle, happy to finally get away from me ;)

Actually, she was the first speaker, and gave an amazing talk "One 'Yes' at a Time" - full of funny stories and great advice.  The best thing she said was that we shouldn't compare ourselves to other people.  She said what we tend to do as women is to compare our interior to someone else's exterior.  We look at all the great things a person portrays publicly and compare our innermost turmoils and struggles with that.  I found this message so inspiring, and a great reminder, especially when I read other people's blogs and see their "perfect lives" that they are willing to show.  Nobody wants to show off their dirty bathroom, so they post a picture of their freshly painted family room instead.  Anyway, it was great!

Then during a quick break, I went over and introduced myself to Hallie Lord, who many of you know as Betty Beguiles:

Of course, she was wearing a pretty dress, and had her adorable daughter with her, whom she let me hold:
(picture courtesy of Lisa a.k.a. the Papparazzi) 

While I was holding her daughter, I got the scoop on how she delivered her third baby in the car on the way to the hospital.  This is a big fear of mine, as Maggie came so fast, and the hospital is a half-hour away.  She gave me some good tips!  And her cutie pie daughter sucked on my name tag:

Then, Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary gave the next talk entitled "How Letting Go of Fear Can Change Your Lives".  She gave some great advice on the negative impact fear has on us, and steps to take to overcome it.  These are her five steps:
1) Put prayer first.
2) Do a radical act of trust by acknowledging your limits.
3) Let go of fear-based humility and acknowledge your strengths.
4) Remember that God always brings good out of evil.
5) Take it one day at a time.  Reject fear each and every day.

Jennifer is also pregnant with her 5th child, and had to give this talk on only two hours of sleep, with a cold.  Poor girl!  But she was perfect!

In between talks, we were able to have small group discussions with the people at our table.  We were blessed to sit with Cari Donaldson, from Clan Donaldson, who was so funny and charming.  She is also a mother of five, with her oldest being eight, just like me! 
Cari and Lisa

 Rebecca Teti, who writes for Faith and Family Magazine (and online) also sat with us. 
She is the mother of three boys and one girl (sounds familiar!) and was by far the most popular writer at our table! 

Another wonderful woman sat with us that has 8 (yes, eight!) children and her last two were twins!  She told me that all of her married life, she was fearful of having twins, even though her kids prayed for them.  She thought, "Nope, God wouldn't give me twins because He never gives you more than you can handle."  Well, turns out she can, and has, handled twins!  She says she received so many graces from having the twins, and was truly an inspiration.

In the middle of the day, we ate feasted on a delicious lunch of chicken, salad, hummus, potato salad, and freshly baked rolls.  It was so yummy! 

After lunch, we had Adoration and a Spiritual Rosary which I have never prayed before.  You hear a gospel passage after each Hail Mary that pertains to the Mystery, and is a constant reminder about what you should be meditating on during the Rosary.  I loved it!

We also had time to take more pictures:
 Standing: Jennifer, Hallie, (someone? sorry!)
Sitting: Melanie (with Baby Anthony), Simcha, and Rachel

What an amazing group of Catholic writers!  I was so happy to meet Melanie, whose blog I found after introducing myself online to her husband, Dom, who is also an FUS grad.  They live in MA, her husband works for the church, and they have lots of young children.  (The similarities never cease!) And Simcha is one of the FUNNIEST bloggers I have ever read.  Seriously, you must go check her out.

Then it was Rachel Balducci's turn to talk about how "You Too Can Be a Saint!".    Her three steps towards Sainthood include:

1) Be Yourself
2) Love Your Life
3) Desire to be a Saint

So simply hard to live out!  She is a witty woman who shared a story that ended with the moral punchline of "Love Inspires More Than the Law Requires".  A good reminder for us to go above and beyond in love, hope and charity - towards everyone, but ESPECIALLY those in our family.  We tend to give everyone else our best, and save the scraps for our spouse and children.  So true!

After her talk, we had to leave, but I managed to ask Rachel to sign my copy of her book:  

 Rachel: Do you have any boys?

 Me: Ummmm, we think this one is a boy...

 Me: Oh, yeah, and I have three more at home.  Whoops!

Rachel politely smiled and nodded, and wondered who this crazy fan is.
She was great!

We also scored some great swag:

This day was so wonderful, and I truly came home feeling refreshed and renewed.  I hope it becomes an annual event, and I promise not to act so star-struck next time ;)


  1. Ahh so fun! I'm so jealous! Wish I coulda been there!

  2. Rebecca TetiApril 03, 2011

    Hi, Colleen! It was a pleasure to meet you and Lisa on Saturday. I'm so glad you enjoyed your day!

  3. LOVELY post! It makes me feel as if I were there with you all, instead of sitting at home crying softly in my soup.

    (Actually, we had meatloaf but, you know.)

    What a beautiful group of gals! Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints. :)

  4. Colleen, It was so great to meet you finally. I wish we'd had a chance to talk longer. Hopefully we'll run into each other again soon.

  5. Admittedly, SO jealous!! Wish it would've been me sitting at your table...but then, looking at the awesome-ness of all of you, I'm not sure I would have fit in ;)

    So many wonderful women of faith and beautiful faces!! Thanks for sharing..I was waiting for it and you delivered!! Well written post, I almost thought I was there with you. Of course, I would have been just as star-struck as you. Oh, and of course I would've been equally as excited to meet you. And be star-struck OF you too. lol.

    Thanks for sharing your day with us and the great nuggets of wisdome from the speakers!

  6. Oh man . . . oh man, oh man, oh man, I WISH I could have gone!!! I am so glad you got so much out of the day -- it sounds wonderful! I hope there will be another one because I want to go!

  7. It was so wonderful to finally meet you in person, Colleen! My only regret is that we didn't have time to chat more (*and* that I didn't get to say goodbye--you're in trouble for sneaking out early! ;). Let's do it again next year!

  8. Colleen, Thank you for saying hello to me! It was wonderful to meet you, and thanks for being a special part of the day. (Also, can I borrow your pictures here?!) Blessings, Rachel

  9. Wow... what a wonderful event! It looks like so much fun and so full of amazing women! Thank you for sharing your day! :)

  10. This looks like a wonderful day of friendship and fellowship...and FOOD.

  11. Found your blogpost courtesy of Melanie @ DarkWineSea! Thanks for taking time to post about the day! Great pictures!

  12. so lucky. I would lub to meet you and all those beautiful women...but most of all to eat that great food!!!!!

    I need a night out.

  13. I'm so glad we (and our growing babies!) had a chance to meet. I only wish we'd had more time to chat.

    God bless.

  14. Colleen,
    It was so great to meet you, too! I can't wait to see your adorable new edition. What a fantastic day- I'm so glad I got to share it with you!

  15. Sigh... I wish I was virtuous enough to say I am not jealous.. .but, alas, I am not. Maybe someday!

    Thanks for sharing such awesome photos!

  16. That sounds like such a wonderful event! My husband's uncle is a priest. He retired from St. Patrick's in Stoneham just a few years ago! It's a small world!

  17. Andrew was so cute at church on Sunday. When I saw him he was like (holding up his new little figurine) "I have Saint ANDREW and Eamon has Saint PHILLIP!" ...I love how they learn from you to make the Saints their real superheros!

  18. I am also pregnant with my fifth child and my oldest is 8, so we're in the same boat (life raft, maybe??). I enjoyed looking at the photos! I was at the Mom's Day Away as well, but didn't think to bring my camera. Wasn't it fabulous?? Take care and God bless!

  19. oh my gosh... I would have been CRAZY STARSTRUCK!!! I wish I were still in MA... I would have been the token single girl at the Catholic MOm's conference!!!

    Great post!
    I also saw your pic on Testosterhome just now and was like, HEY!!! I know that lady! (still want to meet you in person. Must get Jess on that!!!)

  20. Hi Colleen - saw your comment on my blog. No, I don't know what we're having! Our first "surprise" baby! And I was in a kind of reddish-orange striped shirt. I am enjoying your blog! You sure have a bunch of cuties there.


Talk to me...