Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Reign of Brendan

Last but not least...that's my baby, Brendan Joseph.  

He's the last in line (currently, anyway.  #notanannouncement) and I have so much motherguilt with him.  I haven't even started his baby book yet!!  He is not the world's easiest baby (we've had a few of those, and oh my, a spoiled mother do they make) and that makes him harder to *like*.  I know!  Things only a mother could type!  I *love* him but can we please just hurry him up to the best age ever...four.  As I try to type this, he is planning an escape from the toy room where his big siblings are watching him in shifts so that I can have a moment of downtime before my head explodes.  It's been one of those days.  The great thing about having lots of kids is seeing lots of personalities and knowing that this too, shall pass.  We've had hard babies turn into wonderful kids, so I know all hope is not lost!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017



 I've had a couple people ask me about our stance on sleepovers after this post, so I decided to write a little more about it.  As a background, Phil and I both grew up with parents who allowed sleepovers at friend's houses.  Neither one of us had cousins living nearby, so all of our friends weren't family members.  We both have great memories of these sleepovers with friends...but also some really bad ones.  Both of us recall that sick feeling in the bottom of our stomachs the day after a sleepover where we tried to stay up for the whole night, ate too much junk food, and watched questionable movies.  I watched The Shining in 6th grade after my friend's mom asked the group of girls if we were all allowed to watch R-rated movies and I was too embarrassed to state otherwise.  That movie scarred me for life.  I also played with a Ouija board, did some stupid dares, and between the bus and sleepovers, I learned about everything controversial/morally questionable/swears/the birds and the bees, etc.  Phil tells of similar tales...nothing good happens after dark, hyped up on sugar and adrenaline, away from parents.  All of these things influenced our decision as to why we didn't want our kids to have sleepovers at friends houses.  

But there are two more points that sealed the deal.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Seven on Sunday

Jumping on Kelly's linkup a couple days late, but it's summer so nobody cares!

1)  Phil's summer camp is over!  Now he can enjoy his few weeks of summer before school starts :)  He always finds cool activities for the kids and this year had some real winners!  He had the local zoo members come with some animals, a huge blow-up whale that the kids could walk inside, a visit to the fire station, a trip to the ice cream store, the Marionite sisters visit, and lots of crafting and sports along with daily Mass and time for summer homework.  It was three weeks of fun and the kids were exhausted at the end of every day - exactly what summer should feel like!


Now that camp's over, it's time for more beach days!

Well, at least until we see jelly fish, and then I'm sticking to pools.  The weather has been so cool lately that I'm hoping the water doesn't get hot enough for the jellies to come hang out.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The 6th Birthday of the 5th Kid

Alexander Blaise Martin turned 6!!

He started out the day by telling me he felt a little bigger (because he will be the biggest man one day, since he was the biggest baby - he thinks!) and then asked for donuts for breakfast.  Your wish is my command, birthday boy!  Phil brought all the kids to camp and Alexander got to visit with the firemen and spray the hose.  


At lunch time, all the kids sang to him, and later he said it was the best day ever because he "had to do no work today.  Zero work.  Just fun!"  Ahhhhh, I don't think feeding the dog twice a day counts as "work" but whatever makes you have a great day, buddy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Back in May, Phil was talking to the dad of one of JP's classmates when he mentioned how they love to take their family to a Polo game in the summer.  We never knew this was even a "thing" around here, and we certainly didn't feel like our family were exactly polo-watchers (insert elevated pinkie).  

A few weeks later, when we were discussing what to get my really-hard-to-shop-for-Dad (because he's so easy!  You know the type!)  for his upcoming 77th birthday.  I said we should just DO something with him instead of buying him another pair of shorts.  We remembered the fancy-schmancy polo thing and looked into it.

Wouldn't you know, these international polo games had been happening only 35 minutes away for 26 years, had games on Saturday evenings with VERY reasonable prices ($12 per adult, kids under 15 free!!!) and it was lawn seating where you just brought your own chairs and food.  Totally doable!

As luck (of the Irish) would have it, America was playing Ireland in July, the month of my father's birth!  We told him our plan, and headed off to the much anticipated polo match last weekend.  We arrived an hour early, and the place was mobbed!!  People set up tents and grills and had bottles of wine and it was so much fun!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Fashion and Faith Giveaway!

A Fashion and Faith giveaway...a little of this world, a little of the next...a little country, a little rock n' roll...ok, let's get to it!

Are you a female of mothering age?  Do you like to wear shorts because it's hot out but can't find any that are decent quality, with an inexpensive price tag, and above all modest??  Well look no further, because I found some comfy, cute, and most importantly in 7 inch and 9 inch length shorts at Old Navy.  To help you shop, I'm throwing in a $25 gift card to Old Navy!

Did you know it was the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima appearing to the children in Portugal?  Well it is, and to help teach your family about this beautiful apparition, Sophia Institute Press has published a book entitled Our Lady's Message to Three Shephard Children and the World.  Maggie has already devoured the book, with it's pretty illustrations, and loved it.  My mom has a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and we always prayed the family rosary.  She even bought me an Our Lady of Fatima statue for my office when I started my current position!  I think it's a beautiful devotion to be able to pass down to my own children and I'm partnering with Sophia Institute Press to give away a copy of this book!

Just enter below and head over to my Instagram to get another entry!  Thanks for playing!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer is for Camps

Not to be confused with camping.

Because I'd rather die than sleep in a tent in the middle of nowhere with wild animals and bugs roaming free.  But God Bless those of you who love it!

Boogie boarding like a boss.

We've got some summer camps planned for the kids this month.  Phil runs a camp at their elementary school for three weeks, and Declan is old enough to attend so most of them are there.  They go to daily Mass, make crafts, play sports, hang out with friends, and have time to work on their summer homework from the school.  

Taking our little zoo to the big zoo.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Helping Hands

Wow, it's been awhile since I had some downtime to sit and write.  I miss it.  It just seems as the years pass, we get busier and busier.  I like to think of busyness in the family life as a wave and we are just in the swell right now.  Soon enough we will have kids who can drive and alleviate some of that time sucking parental duty.  But right now we have seven active kids who need to be places but can't get there, need to eat but can't really cook, are too young to babysit the littlest ones for too long, are too old to think going to a playground is still the best day ever.  We can't just stay home like we used to do when the older kids were young, so the younger kids are leading a completely different life than the oldest.  When the littles get big, they won't have any little ones around, so they too will be living a different life than their big siblings now.  Everyone has to be flexible, patient, understanding...and we all know that is a tall order.  I even snapped at a single young coworker who kept complaining about being exhausted...seriously??  Is it that tiring taking care of only yourself?  (Not my best moment!)  Anyway, it's a great season we are in, full of so much energy and life, but just extremely tiring as I fall into bed by 9 hoping the kitchen fairies will come and help a mother out.

Back in the beginning of June, I read an article by Erica Tighe that touched my tired heart.  Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

Friday, June 16, 2017

7QT: Starting Summertime


It's summer y'all!  The kids finished up on Tuesday...

...and today is Phil's last day of school for the year!  Yay!  Now he wins the prize of staying home with seven bored, hungry, tired, whiny kids all summer while I sneak off to an air-conditioned office to work in peace and quiet :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Farewell to Kindergarten

My biggest baby (he always tells people he's going to be the biggest man in our family when he grows up because he was the biggest baby) graduated Kindergarten last week.  

His teachers must be thrilled ;)

He was such a cutie patootie that morning, telling me that they were going to sing four songs, that he HAD to hold hands with Olivia, but didn't want anyone to say he was going to marry her, because it's just so AWKWARD.  He also said he was going to read some really RANDOM thing he wrote on the stage.

That's when I started to get nervous.  

"What random thing?", I asked.
  "Oh, it's a secret!" he said, as I started to pray a Hail Mary that it wasn't too random?!?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The End of Middle School

So my first born has had a lot of firsts (and lasts) lately and if I don't write about it, did it ever really happen?  Deep thoughts, I know.  So here we go...

John-Paul got hired for a job a while ago, but just started working at the ice cream shop last week.  He has one 4 hour shift a week, which seems to be all he can handle at one time.  Oh how his feet ached and his hands were prunes after washing 100 buckets that first day!  (I couldn't help but giggle over his first taste of hard work...what would you farm families think?!?)  We all couldn't help but giggle over the size XXXL shirt they gave him:

A smaller one should come in next month.  Heehee!

Those wrinkles ain't nothin' to be scared of
They're just a product of time and true love
Some are gonna come and go
Some are gonna come and stay
Son, you're still young, you're gonna be ok.

Love me some old school Diamond Rio :)

Anyway, the job came just in time as his retainer saga continues.  Did I mention that he lost his retainer two weeks after he got it?  I called to make an appointment for a new one and they said it would cost $400 and I was so upset, even though JP was going to take his life savings to pay for it.  When we got the replacement retainer, they charged $100.  What a relief, but still, lesson learned, right?


A week later, he accidentally tossed his retainer out with his lunch remnants in the trash can.  He picked through the trash with a friend and the Assistant Principal and they found it.  So embarrassing!   He wrote the Asst. Principal a Thank You note.   Lesson definitely learned, right?

Wrong again.

The very next day, he lost it again.

I can't even because what are the odds?

(I'm pretty proud of that math joke right up there)

Anyway, he never found it, even though it caused a major spring cleaning of our house (bonus) and some much anticipated friend time was taken away.  He just had the appointment today to get the new retainer, and so all his graduation money went towards that.  Lesson finally learned?

We shall see.

The irony of the whole thing is that he wants to be an orthodontist when he grows up!

But back to the weekend's festivities.  Friday was their big field trip to Lake Compounce.  Phil went with him and captured this video.  Looks like a scary fun time?!?!

On Saturday, I left Phil home with a sick Andrew, the last of the children to get the stomach bug that had been passed around through the week, and took Maggie with me to decorate the elementary school gym for the 8th Grade Celebration that night.

Don't fly away!!

The theme was Seasons, and the parents put in so many hours of meetings, shopping, crafting, and decorating to make magic happen.  The place looked amazing.  This was to be a semi formal dinner dance for the eighth graders...their first and last dance of middle school.  They were psyched.  JP even got a new outfit.  (tie pants shirt)  Side note, I'm so happy to have mostly boys when it comes to things like this.  The girls looked beautiful, but so much more time and planning went into their dresses, shoes, hair appointments, makeup, nails, jewelry.  JP took a shower and shaved.  Badaboom.

Then they changed into caps and gowns for their Baccalaureate Mass.

My Dad told him to stop looking so serious!

JP read the First Reading, and did great, complete with his signature smirk at the end.  I did great too, not one tear made its way down my cheek :)

They changed out of their caps and gowns and walked down to the school to see the surprise celebration waiting for them.  First up was a slide show, then everybody was forced out so just the 8th graders could enjoy their dinner and dance in peace.  

I asked JP if he danced with any girls and he said "Yeah, lots."  I asked whom he asked to dance, and he said "Nobody, they asked me".  D'oh.  Gotta teach that boy some dance manners!  To be fair this is a great friendly class, and they all just seem to have fun together.

Side note #2, I had prayed to God all day on Friday, while I was at home with two sick kids, that He wouldn't allow me to have the stomach bug until after the Baccalaureate Mass so I wouldn't miss any events.  Guess who had to leave right at the end of Mass to go home and start making good on God's answered prayers?  This girl.

Darn, I should have asked for Him to spare me the bug completely!!  What was I thinking?  I didn't know how powerful my prayers were!  God is good.  All the time. (Say it back to me...I'll wait).

Sunday came and went, and we all basically stayed in bed and/or pajamas.  Then Monday night was the actual Graduation!

 Because it wasn't until 7 and we have three kids who go to bed at 7, we ate an early dinner of pizza and subs (JP's choice) and he opened some gifts...

He loved that bag ;)

He loved what was inside it even more, hence the must-be-documented-hug-from-the-teenager.

Brendan was jealous.  

Our niece came over to babysit the littles, and we headed out for his very last elementary school event...

He won "Best Eyes" in the 8th Grade Superlatives.

Two of his close girl friends (side note #3: girl SPACE friends - no girlfriends until he has a job and a car...that's the rule).  Oh shoot, he already has the job...

He led the Pledge of Allegiance, as the Class Treasurer (my accountant heart was so proud) with the Class Secretary.

JP was recognized for placing in the Top Ten on his high school entrance exam, for being in the National Junior Honor Society for three years, got a Scholar award for earning his spot in all Honors classes in high school next year, and was one of the recipients of the Pastors Award for service in the parish.  Did you know intelligence comes from your mother?  Hmmm?

We were very proud of him, but even more than for his brains, just for being the kind, funny, holy, genuinely sweet kid he is.  He sort of flies under the radar, which is exactly where he wants to be.  He is a loyal friend, faithful servant, and obedient (if not forgetful) son.  His brains are a borrowed gift from God, but how he acts every day is much more important.  God sent us a great one to lead our pack.

Phil and I wrote letters to him for his retreat day, and maybe one day Phil will let me share what he wrote to his son, because it was just beautiful and a great reminder about what is important in life.  

His Principal, pictured above, gave an awesome speech as well, one of the best I've ever heard, and included this poem from Mother Theresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

 ( I admit, I did shed some tears during her speech).

More photos!

Our newest neighbors, my parents!


With his only sis.

His funniest friend, Callie!
Monsignor was definitely whispering something to make him crack up.

And one of the whole class:

And just like that, in the blink of a parenting eye, he is headed to high school.  I can remember when he was just starting pre-school!!  At least he has the whole summer to drive us crazy and make us pray for 9th grade to start already ;)  We love you John-Paul Martin and are lucky to know you.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hello June!

Welp the end of May can get hit with the door on the way out.  It was a rainy, busy month that ended with a stomach bug sweeping through the house and hitting all nine of us.  Again.  We just had this happen in January.  

Hello June!!

My parents moved in this past weekend!  They are still unpacking, but I'm hoping they'll let me take some photos of the renovations that took nine long months (for my Dad, I didn't do anything!).  They live in the first floor condo and we live above them.  We are trying to shush the kids with more frequency now and also stop them from "visiting with Gammy and Grandpa" every ten minutes or so.  After not having anyone live down there for almost a year during the construction, I admit it is really nice to have neighbors again, especially when Phil is gone at night meetings/events and his scaredy cat wife isn't all alone anymore.


Brendan is nine months, and is just about to really crawl on his hands and knees.  he prefers to pull himself up and stand, and forgets he's not a toddler yet and tries to let go and take steps.  He still clearly says More, Mama, and Dada, which makes me think we should start teaching him more words!  He can nod his head yes, which is quite the feat when you have a head in the 100 percentile.  His little toothy smile cracks us all up, he knows he's hamming it up and does this really funny face while his fan club just eats it up.  Oh to be the baby of six adoring siblings!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boys and Schools

Phil and I always discuss, as we are parents to six boys, how school seems to be geared towards girls.  We are not the only ones to think this.  Seriously.  We look around the top kids in our high school, the top kids in the elementary school my kids attend, and it's overwhelmingly females.  Girls seem to be "built" better for schools.  More able to sit still and concentrate, more motivated by attention from good behavior, more likely to excel at language and reading, which makes them more likely to succeed overall.

I remember clear as day when Maggie was not even three years old, we went to a bridal shower, and she sat at the table and colored for the majority of the party: 

The other little girls there did the same.  I remarked to my sister that I had never seen one of my kids sit and color for so long.  She, being the mother of two little girls, couldn't believe my astonishment.  My boys would color for maybe two minutes before they were running off destroying something to figure out how to put it back together.  Having a girl seemed so much easier!  I can imagine that teachers who are trying to get kids to focus in a classroom would find girls easier too.