Friday, January 29, 2016

7QT at the end of January


I just filed our taxes this morning!  I love doing my taxes and I love getting my refund even more.  I miss working in a CPA firm sometimes, because doing taxes was weirdly fun for me (nerd alert) but the stress with the deadlines and super long hours made it pretty unbearable.  And then I didn't like auditing for the rest of the year, so I guess I made the right decision to get out of that career.  Phew, life crisis averted.


Did you hear that Camp Patton is back?  Woohoo!  I'm a happy camper :)


Guys, I am so largely with child at 11 weeks, it's blowing my mind.  And it's like I've got a baby bump in the front and in the back this time - bedonkadonk.  It *might* have something to do with the fact that I'm eating every 2 hours to not puke, and not exercising because I am nauseous and exhausted.  That combination can only lead to lady humps.  


I won't talk about all things pregnant all the time, but let me just say this.  I am 36 years old, turning 37 in a month, and that's ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE.  So in baby-making terms, I'm ancient.  As soon as I found out I was preggers, I decided to switch from my amazing, lovely midwife who only allows natural births at a hospital 30 minutes away, to a doctor who can give me all the drugs I want at a hospital 5 minutes away.  Phil tells everyone that I want the option of an epidural, and I'm like ah, no, I want the epidural at 1 cm.  Even my doctor (so nice but so cute - I like my lady parts doctors ugly) was telling me that they just revamped the maternity ward and they have tubs now for use during labor, and I stopped him and said "I'm getting an epidural, so I don't need a tub".  Tubs were a lifesaver during my natural births, but the promise of an epidural will be my sanity saver this pregnancy.  Watch me go too fast to get one or something. {insert prayers here}


I haven't even gotten to my point yet about being AMA under a doctor's care.  So because I'm high-risk (old) I have to have genetic counseling and an NT Scan.  That appointment is set for Monday morning.  I also am having a Cell-Free Fetal DNA test done, which is something I never had done before.  

The bad news is that all these tests make me a bit nervous because I like to think of pregnancy as a healthy, normal occurrence and these tests make you feel like there going to discover something wrong.  Even if my baby has any of the "problems" they are testing for, it's not like we won't lovingly accept him/her.  And I won't do an amniocentesis for further testing if we get any positive results.  I guess it will just help to prepare us mentally for what lays ahead.  

The good news is that we can find out the gender of this baby once we get the results of Monday's test!  Phil and I are definitely finding out, the kids are mixed on wanting to know, and we're not sure if we are going to tell anyone else.  We've kept it a secret before (Alexander) but I don't know if I can again.  Plus, if some of the kids want to know, then the world will know.  Telephone, telegram, tellakid.


Phil and I joined a new gym!  But we haven't actually worked out yet.

I think Feb. 1 will be my new year for 2016.  January was a month I'd like to forget.  Who's with me?


Next week is Catholic Schools Week!  The kids have lots of fun activities planned at their school, ending with a basketball game of students vs. faculty (and our pastor!).  My boys are really excited for that!!  This weekend, we are hopefully putting back together the second floor of our house.  The floors were installed this week, Maggie's room is coming together, and Phil's picking up some bunk beds this weekend for the big boys' room.  It's going to look like a whole new house up there!  I'll post photos next week, if you're into that sort of thing :)

Go visit Kelly for more QTakers and have a football-free, cookie-baking, room-organizing weekend everybody!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Conception Confessions

Our Diocese cancelled all trips to go to the March for Life due to the winter storm DC was getting.  Smart move, but sad for all the students here who wanted to go and march.  Sarah sent me this video on the day of the March, and I was a snotty mess after watching it.

I looked down at my (already!) growing belly and thought about how grateful I was to be on my personal march for life for 9 months.  Sad to report, I think it was the first time I was thankful for this pregnancy.  This one was our biggest surprise yet (not a mistake, but definitely a surprise).  We are truly stumped as to how it happened, as we use the Marquette Model of NFP and didn't take any chances at all during the month this bambino was conceived.  Phil jokes that he's not sure who the father is, because we seriously can't pinpoint how this pregnancy occurred.  (Maggie's pregnancy happened in a similar fashion, so maybe it's a girl thing?)

As Christmas was drawing near, and I started to wonder if I could possibly be pregnant, I would remind myself that there was no chance in hades.  But the days went on, and I kept thinking maybe I should take a test, but then I wouldn't want to "waste one" on what would obviously come up negative.  I finally told myself I would take a test on Christmas Eve, which was in a few days.  Then the next morning, while driving the kids to school, I saw the sign in front of our church which read:

 "Blessed is the fruit of your womb"

 I knew I was pregnant.  It was a sign, a literal sign!  The next morning, after tossing and turning all night, I took a test at 5 am and it was positive.  Still thinking there was no way that could be right, I took another test, and again, positive.  I blinked back tears and tried to think of how to tell Phil (he always gets super excited about the news, and I wanted to surprise him) as he walked into the bathroom, saw me shrug with teary eyes, and gave me the biggest hug and congratulations.  He's pretty fantastic like that.

I just couldn't wrap my head around this baby.  SEVEN kids, that's like practically unheard of around me (right, Michelle?).  My mind started running logistics.  Where would the baby sleep?  How would they all fit in my car?  How could we afford another three more years of daycare?  How would I physically handle this pregnancy at my "advanced maternal age" (36 going on 37)?  I cried a lot because I was scared and had stupidly settled on the thought that 6 kids was our family size.  I thought we were "done", even though I hate when people use that term.  I was open to life in theory, but using NFP to make sure I wouldn't ever have to carry a new life within me.  I was tired, I was selfish, I was scared.  Still am, actually.

Yet somehow, with time and prayer. we adjust and grow and the grace is there to get us through.  After praying for the people who marched for life, and unborn babies, and scared mothers and fathers, I realized how lucky I am.  My husband is a rock, my kids are all thrilled to be having another baby in the house, we have a house and jobs, this baby will share a room with Maggie and we just upgraded to a minivan that will seat me + 7 kids.  God has trusted me enough to allow me to mother another baby with a soul for all eternity.  It's pretty wild that I was chosen to do this, God certainly qualifies the called.  I am getting excited to meet this little babe, and am offering up my morning sickness and physical pains for the aching of so many hearts who would do anything to have a baby of their own.  Blessed is the fruit of my womb, indeed.

Friday, January 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes: But not too quick...

 ...or you might not spot all SEVEN :)

Artwork by the amazing Heather at HoneychildForest
Linking up with Kelly on this fine Friday and excited to finally share the news with you all.   Due date is August 18th and I'm feeling sick, sick, sick, which means baby is doing just great!

Friday, January 15, 2016

7QT: TV, a Crockpot Recipe, and Hairy Situations

Whew, it's getting to feel like winter here in New England.  No real snowfalls yet, but the temps have finally dipped below freezing.  We've had such a mild and pleasant winter, and after last year's record breaking snow storms, I am very happy about it!  Linking up with Kelly and crew, and away we go!


With January comes new TV shows!  Downton Abbey is back:

Sherlock is back:

and my favorite new show, The Grinder:

If you are not watching it yet, please's so witty and funny.  


The Powerball hoopla was crazy!  We had a couple pools going at work (of course, I joined), and everyone kept talking about what they would do if they won.  Phil just kept reminding me that people who win insane amounts of money usually get their lives ruined.  I think I could be the exception ;)


I bought a few tank tops from Loft as a Christmas gift to myself, and I love them so much.  

They come up higher on my neckline than most tank tops I've had, they are long so you can wear them with skinny pants or leggings, or tuck them in to a skirt for a nice blousey effect.  They are soft and seriously, I can't say enough good about them.  Plus they are on sale right now for $8.00 - what a deal!


Today is pajama day at my kid's school.  Since Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they are celebrating his "I Have A Dream" speech by wearing pj's.  Cute idea, right?  Of course, just last week we gave away allllllllll the older boys' pajamas because they don't wear them anymore.  Apparently, the age 9 and up crowd in this casa thinks it's cooler to wear sweatpants and tee-shirts than pajamas.  The things you learn.


I just purchased a magnifying mirror for the first time, and oh my gosh, those things are scary!  I can see every hair follicle, every pore, it's nuts!  

It made me realize I need to do a much better job at grooming my brows.  They are definitely not "on fleek", more like "oh eeek".  And I think my pores might need some kind of face mask.  Any recommendations?


Have I ever told you my easy-peasy and delicious way of cooking a whole chicken?  We eat this a few times a month, it's such a crowd pleaser.  I can throw it in the crockpot in the morning before work, then just make some potatoes and veggies when I get home.

Crockpot Chicken

Chop 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 3 stalks celery and throw into crockpot.

Wash and dry whole chicken (remove innards) and place on top of veggies.  We use a 6-7 pounder.

Sprinkle top of chicken with whatever spices you like.  (We do rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika)

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove chicken from crockpot and serve.  

Place all remaining bones back in crockpot (all the veggies and juices are still in there) and fill to the top with water, cook on low again for another 8-10 hours (we just usually let it go all night long).  Strain and you have homemade delicious chicken stock.  We get about 8 cups worth every time and use it to make soups, gravy, and sauces.


I'm so excited to watch the Patriots kick some Chiefs behind.  Hopefully.  They haven't been doing too great lately.  But playoff games are fun no matter what.  Well, it's more fun if your team wins, but that's not what I teach my kids.  Do as I say, not as I do.  

Have a wonderful playoff watching, cold weather snuggling, long weekend everybody!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Never a Dull Moment

You know how Staples has those big red Easy buttons?  I'd like a big red Pause button for life. 

There's just always so much to do, and not enough time to do it all, ya know?  This past Saturday, Phil and my Dad spent their time ripping out all the carpet from the second floor, and cleaning up after themselves so the kids could still live in their bedrooms until the hardwood floors get installed.  While that was happening, the contractor for Maggie's new room was here putting up the outside wall of her room.  I was busy keeping the kids downstairs, and driving Maggie to basketball, then Andrew to basketball, and cooking and delivering a meal to my friend who had a baby.  

On Sunday, Phil gave a talk at our parish for Adult Ed, and then made two trips to the dump to get rid of the old carpet in the pouring rain.  Andrew had another basketball game, and the Christmas decorations got put away.  Monday came too quick with work and school, and the afternoon found us with an orthodontist appointment for JP, a basketball practice for Eamon, the contractor coming back to plaster and sand the walls, meeting with a couple who bought the bunk bed from us on Craigslist, and a trip to Wal-Mart (shudder) for some much needed diapers.

Tuesday afternoon was filled with yet another doctor's appointment, a basketball game for Eamon, and Phil's second talk at our parish.  Today's calendar (google calendar has been a life changer for us) shows that the contractor will be back to prime and paint, Maggie has Irish Step class, and I need to get my stitches removed from my mole removal two weeks ago.  Andrew's basketball practice got cancelled tonight (and all the Martins said Amen) so it feels like an easy night tonight.  We might actually fit in the grocery shopping trip we so desperately need. On the rare occasions where there is nothing on the calendar for the afternoon/evenings I get giddy and throw on my pj's as early as possible and promptly fall asleep at 8:30 pm.  Oh, the life.

I really shouldn't be complaining about this busyness of ours.  After all, we do have six kids, and we do work out of the home during the day, so all of the chores and errands have to be done at night and on weekends.  Plus, it's me who signs up the kids for all of these activities they want to participate in, and we really do enjoy watching them play.  It's the life and lifestyle we've chosen.  It's just sometimes I get burnt out and need a break.  And I need a break like yesterday already.  This is when I like to start planning a family vacation so we can get away from everything, even if it's just for a night or two.  This February, if the weather and everybody's health allows, we will be doing a big week-long trip to somewhere warm.  Although I detest long drives, the destination will be worth it (I hope!).  In the meantime, it's life on fast forward until someone sends me that Pause button.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Choosing Kid's Activities

Well, Bonnie asked how we go about choosing the kid's activities, and as I always say, ask and you shall receive.  I'm probably not the best mom to write about this since all my kid's activities revolve around being active (heehee activities = active) and we don't do music lessons, voice lessons, drama or the like.  But, here's how we roll with sports and dance.

There was no question in my mind that my kids would play sports.  I grew up playing all kinds, and while never excelling at any in particular, I loved being part of a team and staying healthy.  Phil grew up playing sports also and we are both very athletic and competitive in general.  I do want to say I also played violin for 5 years and sang in the choir, and I wish I could give my kids music lessons alongside sports, but we just can't afford the money or time to do it all, so we choose sports.

We start with soccer when the kids turn four.  Soccer is such a great team sport, you don't have to be amazing individually to play on a soccer team, and it involves lots of running and very little equipment (cleats and shinguards).  The reason we start them as young as possible is because kids are going to stink their first year at any sport.  They're just learning and it's super cute to watch a four year old miss a kick, but not as endearing when it's your ten year old playing soccer for the first time against other kids who have been playing for 6 years.  Start them young and let them learn the game and build confidence before they "care" about how they look.  Plus, little kids just make the team, but older kids have to try out.  If your kids are already older and want to start a new sport, I would suggest finding a clinic that would teach them the basics before they go play.

We live near the ocean, and having our kids know how to swim is very important to us.  For that reason, we start swimming lessons when they are around four also.  I did do those Mommy/Baby swim lessons with some of the older boys, but they were dumb.  As long as your child doesn't have a fear of getting in the water, you don't need to start lessons until they are willing to swim without floaties on.  We have been lucky to find swimming lessons at our local college that allows us to take all of the kids aged 5 and up at the same one hour time period.  So swimming is the easiest activity for us to schedule.  I don't think it will be any of their high school sports, but I am glad they will be safe around the water.

Basketball, we're in the midst of this season now.  Basketball, unlike soccer, is a much more individual sport.  There's less players on the court and more opportunities to score or miss.  In my town, basketball doesn't start until age 6, so that's when we sign them up.  Then they play CYO through the parish school once they hit 4th grade.  Since my kids go to a Catholic elementary school, there are not many sports offered, but we take advantage of CYO basketball and track in the fall and spring.  Track starts in 3rd grade and consists of one or two practices a week plus a big track meet in May.  All you need is sneakers.  Easy peasy.  Because they run track for two seasons, in the off seasons, we make them run to keep in shape.  They don't actually love heading out for a run, but they are always happier when they get home and love seeing improvements in their time.  Kids have the mindset that they can just go out and win a race or score all the goals, but it's our job to instill the virtues of hard work, discipline, and practice.

We've been lucky that our kids want to play all.the.sports.  Last year, Andrew, Eamon and Maggie wanted to try lacrosse, and so we did.  Andrew ended up not loving it (I think it was because he was ten and playing for the first time), Eamon loved it, and Maggie liked it.  We shall see if any of them want to continue with that.  This year, JP decided to stop playing basketball because he just wasn't quite as good as the other guys on the team, and didn't love playing anymore.  That was fine with us, he knew himself and wasn't feeling the love of the sport and we aren't going to push him.  However, Alexander decided he hated soccer in the middle of the soccer season, and we made him stick through until the end.  He still hated it at the end, but now that the months have passed, he talks about playing again when he turns five.  If they commit to a sport (and we pay for it) we make them finish the season, but if they don't want to sign up for the next season, we allow that too.  It's supposed to be enjoyable for them.

Family Rules:

We only let each kid play on one team per season.  You can not even believe how many teams the kids could play on for the same sport!  For example, some of their CYO teammates also play basketball for their town league and for the town's travel league.  So they are juggling three team's schedules in the same season for the same sport.  That may be doable when you have one or two kids in sports, but it's certainly not practical when you have lots of kids.  It's hard enough having 5 soccer teams to schedule, or three basketball teams (all different leagues) that occur just by each kid playing on one team, there's no way we can do more that that.

In addition, right off the bat, we said no to football and ice hockey because we deemed them too dangerous for our kids (you can completely disagree with me, but we have to draw the line somewhere).

Insofar as which sports to choose, time and money are usually the deciding factors on what we allow our kids to participate in.  Soccer, basketball, and track are cheap sports - you just need special shoes for each and shinguards for soccer.  In the past, we've said no to Maggie for gymnastics due to the expense, but now make the sacrifice to let her take Irish Step dancing classes each week because she loves it, and I love preserving my Irish heritage.


Choosy moms choose carefully.  Our kids have played soccer, basketball, track, tennis, baseball, lacrosse and swimming.  We eventually cut out tennis and baseball, and stopped swimming lessons once they were good little fishies.  We just can't do it all, and if we also can't do it for all who want to, then we cut something out.  Also, there's been seasons we've not done much because a new baby was coming and I knew our family needed a break from the scheduling demands.

Think ahead!  Remember to think about the next season while you're in the current one.  Soccer tryouts happen in the summer, basketball tryouts happen during soccer season, baseball signups happen in the winter, etc.  If you know your kid's school has a track club or swim team, then start your kids in those sports early.  Work with what's available.

If money is an issue, try to find a discounted way to play sports.  Most leagues have family discount prices ($100 for kid #1, $90 for kid #2, etc.).  When we signed up for lacrosse last year, the website said there were scholarships available.  I emailed to ask how to apply, and upon hearing how many children we had they just let our kids join for free.  We still had to buy all the equipment (lacrosse has lots!!) but we went to a used sports store and got it there.  When my first four kids were little, we got them all free swimming lessons at the YMCA based on our family's income at the time.  It never hurts to ask!  Well, it might hurt your pride, but you learn fast to let that go :)

We try to pick leagues where all ages of kids can play.  Town leagues are good for this.

Think about what sports they will be playing in high school.  What sports are available at the high school you want to send them too?  What are the athletic requirements for high school?  For our Catholic high school, students must participate in two sports seasons or take gym class to fulfill their athletic requirement.  I'm actually so excited for high school sports because it means my kids go to school in the morning, stay for sports, and then come home at night.  There's no picking up from school, dropping off at some other school's field or court, picking them up again and bringing them home.  High school is a one-stop shop.

Likewise, think about what you want your kids to be able to learn.  I want my kids to be able to jump in a pool or the ocean and know how to swim.  I want them to be able to run so they have an easy way to exercise throughout life.  I want them to be part of a team to learn to be good sports, cheer on others, win gracefully, lose graciously, and work hard.  I want them to join in a pickup game of anything when they are in college and hanging out with friends.  

I don't think my kids are going to be the best on their teams.  I don't think they are going to win college scholarships.  I don't want to push them too hard.  I don't want them to think athletics are more important than faith, family, or their education.  But they are important to us, they teach so much, and they keep our kids involved, healthy, and fight their natural inclination towards laziness.  We just see sports as a big win-win for life.

Related posts:

Friday, January 8, 2016

7QT: The First of 2016

How is 2016 treating you?  We've been busier than usual inside the House of Martin because...


We are smack dab in the middle of Maggie's new room.  The walls were built, the electrician's work is done, and now we are waiting on the contractor to finish putting up the outside wall (he was waiting for electrician) and paint it.  Maggie wanted to go with a lavender color but we talked her into white so that we could decorate it however she wanted as she grew up.


Since we're doing this construction upstairs, we decided to remove the disgusting off-white carpets that have been there since who knows how long.  When we moved in they were stained and we tried to spot-clean them (this is the best rug cleaner I've found) but they're just more dirty than not, so away they finally go.  We will be installing laminate hardwood floors through the whole upstairs.  It's going to be so much cleaner and better looking!


Of course, once you have to take out all the bedroom furniture in order to install new flooring, it only seems natural that you would reorganize the bedrooms.  So!  We are selling the oldest boy's bunk bed/desk/drawer unit because it's just too big in that room and replacing it with a smaller bunk bed.  In the little boy's room, we are taking out the crib and giving Declan a bed.  What?!?!  He is 21 months old and I hope he does fine with the change, we've found with the others that switching them before age 2 made for a pretty seamless transition.

Skating with cousins over Christmas break


I'm really hoping after all this construction/cleaning/purging/reorganizing, we will actually like the second floor of our house.  I haven't liked it yet, so there's only room for improvement :)

Christmas Concert 2015 - A Singer, A Shepherd, Joseph, and Stage Crew

The kids are all doing well, we've all been healthy for a looooong stretch which I probably just jinxed!  JP has his first middle school hang out tonight sans parents (a game night at the school) and he's psyched.  We make him go for runs since he's not currently playing a sport and he complainingly obeys.  Good boy.  Andrew and Eamon have been playing basketball and have coaches from other teams trying to get them to sign up for different basketball leagues.  The boys are like "SURE!  More basketball!"  And Phil and I are like, "NO THANKS!  One team per season per kid is plenty!"  Maggie has her first basketball game this Saturday, and she just moved up to Advanced Beginner in Irish Step class.  She'll be dancing in the hard shoes soon.  That reminds me, I'm like obsessed with watching Irish Step dancing on Instagram.  Go check out this one.

Post Confession DONUTS!


Alexander seems to be doing great in school, we haven't gotten any emails home and he says he hasn't been "spoken to or reminded about anything" a lot.  He did get in trouble for "messing around in the play kitchen" the other day, and when I asked him why he was messing around instead of following the rules, he broke down crying and said "I just can't remember all the rules!  The girls can but the boys can't!"  It's tough being a boy :(


Declan is a sweet toddler, for the most part.  He does not like to sit in the highchair anymore, only at the big table like the rest of the family.  He can say a bunch of words now, and is just starting to put a couple together.  "More cookie" is a favorite.  He calls Maggie "Giggie" and Alexander can make him laugh non-stop.  He's discovered that he can hit and say NO which is just about as much fun as you would imagine, but it's all a passing phase.  His sound for cat and firetruck are the same "Wee-oh-wee-oh"  and we just think he's the cutest little thing ever.  Isn't it amazing how you can love each of your children so much without loving any of them less?  Mind.blowing.  

Have a great football watching, home organizing, finally put away the Christmas decorations kind of weekend everyone!

(Go see Kelly for more!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Friends a Mom Needs

The Fit Friend

Sure, she'll make you feel guilty about your mostly non-exercising ways, but she will also encourage you to work a little harder to meeting your fitness goals.  This friend is the person you can text to say that you walked 3 miles today and she'll be your personal cheerleader.  You just want to make her happy.  

The Unfit Friend

When that Fit Friend is posting how many miles she ran to Facebook yet AGAIN, this is the friend you can commiserate with.  She will make you feel better about choosing cheesefries when you go out to eat and reminds you to slow down and enjoy life.  She just wants you to be happy.

The Friend in the Next Stage of Life

We all need someone who's slightly older than us and can help guide us in the areas of what's normal and what's not.  She will let you in on the secrets of a happy marriage, help you navigate the waters of menopause, and calm you down, reminding you that no matter what it is, "This too shall pass".  She's your voice of reason.

The Friend with More Kids Than You

This one is important!  Not only does she have plenty of childbearing wisdom to share, but you like knowing you're not the craziest, loudest, biggest family in the town.  Um, yeah I may have six kids, but have you met Anne?  She's got SEVEN!  Doesn't she know what causes that? She's nuts!

The Friend with No Kids

Equally important, but hard to find when you're a mom hanging out with mostly other moms.  This single friend can help you reconnect to your cooler college days of staying out late, eating at adult restaurants and sleeping in until you want to eat breakfast and not when children are in your face screaming for it.  She's also an ideal "Auntie" for your kids, buys awesome presents, spoils them, and can babysit in a pinch.  She just wants to enjoy your family without having any responsibility.

The Spontaneous Friend

This is the pal you can call at 6:30 pm and she'll be ready to run away with you to grab a drink by 7.  She's always up to do something and is so much fun to hang out with.  She's not concerned that you didn't ask her weeks ago if she was free for a planned outing in the future.  She makes it happen in the present.  She just wants to have a good time.

The Virtual Friend

This is the Introvert's bestie.  A friend that you can text, email, and follow on social media but you never actually have to meet in person.  She's so low maintenance and while you share a strong connection, she totally understands that talking on the phone would really ruin things for you.  She just gets you.

And finally, 

The Prayer Warrior

We all need a friend like this in our corner.  This is the friend whom you can just give a certain look and she'll understand you're going through something and will immediately start praying Hail Mary's for you.  She is there to encourage you in your faith life and is always thinking of others in their times of need.  She just wants to help in any way she can.

Most importantly, remember that to have good friends, you must be a good friend and no matter what kind of friends you have,

Ta ta for now, FRIENDS :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Girl and her Doll

I was never one to play with dolls.  Barbies were banned from my house while growing up, and I didn't even know American Girl dolls existed until I was way too old to want one.  I had a Cabbage Patch doll, a bald preemie named Samantha, who sat in my Pet Net amongst my other neglected stuffed animals.  A Pound Puppy named Fudge.  A Wuzzle.  A Popple.  A Carebear.  It was the 80s and 90s yo, and I had the perfectly pegged jeans and Tretorns to prove it.

I also never had much of an imagination or a creative side.  I liked to be active, played sports, the violin, ice skated, and worked in my parent's shop from a young age.  I was practical and studious and the only fairy tale dreams I had were to get married to my very own prince charming and have tons of babies.  {Mission accomplished}

Those babies came and most were boys, and then, finally, pink!  She loved baby dolls but then outgrew them and followed in her big brother's footsteps of sports.  She traded in the tea parties for cleats and the baby bottles for lacrosse sticks.  I wouldn't call her a tomboy per se, but she was definitely not a typical "girly girl".  She liked to wear dresses, but hated tights.  She loved lip gloss but wouldn't be caught dead in braids or barrettes.  

And then one day, after spending time with her girl cousins, she decided she wanted an American Girl doll.  We hemmed and hawed and wanted to make sure she really wanted the doll and not just to be like her cousins.  She insisted she wanted Maryellen.

We told her she could ask for American Girl store gift cards as birthday gifts and Christmas gifts and save up to buy Maryellen herself.  She was on board.  We could tell that she really wanted this doll, it wasn't just a fleeting request.  Her birthday came and went, and she ended up receiving half of the cost of Maryellen in gift cards.  We said that maybe after Christmas she would have enough to get her.  

A few days before Christmas, Maggie asked me if she could write a letter to Santa.  "Sure!" I responded outwardly, while inside I was shocked as all of her older brothers had been the annoying first grader caught telling their friends that Santa doesn't exist.  We just don't really encourage Santa, but somehow Maggie wound up believing.  Here's what she wrote:

An Elf on the Shelf?  For reals?  Maggie knows how much I get creeped out by that dude, that's why she called in the big guy!  But Santa is smart and sent her back a letter that she opened and read on Christmas day:

So a couple days after Christmas, my mom, Maggie, and I made the trek to the American Girl store and picked out Maryellen.  Of course Gammy had to buy her a "play outfit" as well.  Maggie was smitten!  

She still changes her outfits and plays with her everyday, even though nobody else is around to play with her.  I don't know why she doesn't have a sister of her own, but she is so lucky to have girl cousins close to her age that she gets to see a lot.  She read the book that came with the doll and was excited to discover Maryellen is one of six kids too!  How cool!  Every time I catch her playing with her doll, my heart melts a little to see this side of my beautiful daughter, one I never expected but is lovely to watch.