Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Break of Spring

Otherwise known as Spring Break.

Otherwise known as April Vacation.

I just love this break from school and work!  The weather is historically nice, and everyone needs a break from the hard work of March and the diseases being spread around the schools.  Blech, open the window, bleach all the things and see ya in a week.  This year was especially nice because we were let out on Holy Thursday as a half day and didn't have to return until today, 11 days later.  If we didn't have a baby, we would have planned a long trip somewhere.  But alas, this guy keeps us close to home and is back to his up-at-night antics once again.  I'm so sad we can't shove his chubby self into the Magic Sleepsuit anymore.

The week started out wonderfully, as the weather was sunny and warm, and I was able to go for a run with Phil each morning while the baby napped, and then we continued to play outside at the park and walk the dog, and I racked up so many steps on my Fitbit from Monday through Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, my sister and I left for Philadelphia for my Uncle Tom's funeral.  She took her three kids, and I took three of mine - Andrew, Eamon, and Maggie.  John-Paul was visiting our alma mater, Franciscan University with his cousin's family and had a grand old time:

He got his braces off this week too!  So grown up :(

We asked him why he bought an alumni sweatshirt, and he said because it was the most comfortable.  (I'm not sure he knew what alumni meant!)  

Anyway, the Philadelphia van headed out on Thursday morning and headed straight into the city to sight see a bit:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Bright and Sunny Easter 2017

But first...

Good Friday traditional Dove Nests breakfast:

Then we cleaned and I performed 5 haircuts during the time Jesus hung on the cross...very fitting!

Good Saturday was a laid back day, and we very much felt like we were just waiting for His Resurrection.

Finally, this morning...EASTER!! 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We'll Be That Crazy Family

You know you all have a family that you think of when your own family seems out of control, and you think "Well, at least we're not as crazy as so and so.  They have 10 kids!  They wear sandals in winter!  They eat fast food once  a week! {Insert other judgmental stereotypes here}"

For me personally, it always made me feel a little better when someone is shocked by MY family size to say that I know other families with EVEN MORE kids.  I was talking to a guy who goes to the same parish as me, and has three little ones.  He told me that he came from a family of 11 kids.  ELEVEN, I exclaimed??  That's awesome!  And crazy!!  And he looked at my seven darlings and said, "Well, yeah, but I wasn't the one having that many!"  Oh right, between the two of us, I'm the crazy one.

That family that will bathe kids together for as long as possible...that's us.

I realized that somehow, year by year, child by child, we have become that large, loud, chaotic family that I used to compare my little family to.  We are that crazy family for other families now.  How embarrassing on some levels, I mean how did we get here exactly?  It seems like just yesterday I was buying treats in a four pack for my kids and now I either have to buy a six pack and leave Brendan out of the treat or an eight pack and have one extra.  We're the crazy now.

Friday, April 7, 2017

(Baby) Mother Runner: Getting Started

This post goes out to all the slightly out-of-shape, slightly chubby, slightly ready to change their body but not willing to do anything crazy, mommies in the e-house.

I titled this post (Baby) Mother Runner because even though I am a mother and runner, I am such an amateur about the whole thing.  I'm not running any marathons while qualifying for Boston (that would be her), I'm not pushing two kids in a jogger stroller while running super fast (that would be her) and I'm definitely not looking like a model while I run (that would be her.)

That's more like it.

I am a working mom who has barely any time to herself, but loves to eat, and needs to exercise for mental health and also for my high cholesterol.  My exercise of choice is running because it is the quickest and cheapest way to burn calories and get my heart racing.  The endorphin high I get after a run outside is incomparable to all other fun things in life.  It's addictive and I'm hooked.  But all things in moderation, including moderation.

So I wanted to share some tips and tricks to get you motivated for running outdoors in some gorgeous Spring weather (I heard it's coming but have yet to see it).  Here we go...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

When it Rains, it Pours

It's been a rainy week, both literally and figuratively.  I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but there's been a lot of little things that have added up into big things that have made these past few days very Lenten.  

Have I told you all about the accident that Phil got into?  He's ok, the other driver is ok, and Brendan (the only passenger) is ok.  Thanks be to God for that!  Anyway, long story short, Phil made a (legal) U-Turn in the street, but because his van is so big, he ended up needing to make a 3 Point Turn (illegal?) to get himself all the way turned around.  A car that was totally far enough away when he started this process ended up crashing into him.  The driver was obviously not paying attention (phone?) and got out of the car, all shaken up and extremely apologetic.  They exchanged info and went home.  Later that night a police officer called Phil because the other driver had gone to the hospital to be checked out upon the urging of his wife.  He was fine, but this opened a police case.  Blah blah blah lots of talking to insurance companies and paperwork and $1500 worth of work later and Phil's van is fixed.  We are still waiting to hear which driver is charged with being at fault so that we can possibly get our deductible back.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Sweetest Ever Baby Turns Three

Well today my baby, Declan Kolbe, turned three.  Wait a minute, Colleen, don't you have an actual baby?  Yes I do, but he's Phil's baby ;)  Once they are toddling around, they are my favorite age and I can't get enough until they turn 5.  Wink again.  Sorta.  

So back to the birthday boy, the little surprise baby whom I was fairly certain was a Felicity Grace but arrived ten days late and with a different gender than I thought I wanted but never knew how much I needed.

Oh Declan, you sweet thing, I would have waited an eternity for you.  

After Mass, we celebrated with some birthday donuts, and I asked him his age...


That's better.

We are all enamored with him, he's just such a happy, polite, sweet as cake little boy.  I don't think any of my children have been cut quite like him.  Maggie came down wearing a dress for Mass this morning and he exclaimed, breathless, "Maggie, you're a princess!", then he proceeded to bow to her.

I mean, sigh.

Friday, March 31, 2017

7QT: Signs of Life

Hey there, it's been awhile!  These last couple weeks are when I get slammed at work because it's Financial Aid time!!  Also, the return of winter weather is making everyone sick and feel depressed.  So I'll mention some things that are making me happy...


Walking the dog.  Well, when she's not jumping or pulling.  I actually ran a few miles with her yesterday and she was pretty good!  The combo of something else motivating me to get outside and move and soak up some Vitamin D is a good thing.  Phil and I even sneak out for walks with her at night once the babes are sleeping (see #6).


Some shallow stuff...

This chapstick that makes me look a little less like death.  I wear it in Red Dahlia.

This eyebrow pencil that helped fix my last hair removal situation.  I don't even want to talk about it.

Still loving these pants with this tank (it's the perfect length!) and a bright cardigan.

Friday, March 17, 2017

7QT: Tis Good to Be Irish

Top o' the mornin' to ye!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!  And remember: "Tis not a sin not to be Irish, just a terrible, terrible shame."  Here we gooooooo...


Some photos from St. Patrick's Days Past:

Me and my little sister, 1985

Friday, March 10, 2017

Seven on a Snow Day (and a Winner!)

It's Friday and extra special because....


No work!  No school!  It's a snow day!!

Hello long weekend :)  Unfortunately I think we might get a big snowstorm on Tuesday, which would put us over our allotted snow days and mean we have to stay later into June.  Snow thank you!


Key Lime Chicken with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

I discovered a new food blog while hunting for healthy, low carb recipes for Lent.  It's called Iowa Girl Eats and she posts gluten free recipes.   So far, the meals have been delicious.  I'm looking forward to trying the Thai Peanut Chicken with Sweet Potato Noodles this week.   Here's the rest of the week's meal plan:

My favorite day made a double appearance!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Around the House

I love to cook.  I really get excited to print out a new recipe, gather the ingredients, pump up the jams, and cook away in the kitchen.  What I can't stand is people whining at me for dinner, asking me a million times what dinner is, and then telling me (by facial expression or vocally) that they don't approve.  I'm sorry, when did you walk into a restaurant and pay the chef to cook you what you want?  If I could just cook in peace and serve grateful, non-picky eaters, that would be nice.  Lately I've been making some new lowish carb recipes.  These Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs over zoodles were delish.  We had Thai Beef Stirfry (minus the rice, added lettuce wraps) last night, and tomorrow is Key Lime Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice.  I can get behind healthy eating when the meals are flavorful and exciting.  If you make me eat baked chicken and broccoli everyday, I will.not.survive.

Sometimes I sic the little kids on their big siblings.  If I'm too tired or lazy to get up, I suggest an older kid for the job.  Declan wants a cup of milk?  Why don't you ask Eamon to do that for ya?  It's time for the littles to go to bed?  I ask them to pick an older sibling for bedtime and a story that night.  The big kids are actually really sweet to the babies and toddlers, it's their saving grace some days ;)

I have to remind myself that I can't get mad at the sixth person who yells MOM! at me, because even though I'm being bombarded by lots of people's needs, this was the first time this particular little person called me, and I should respond sweetly.  It's not their fault they have to split my attention seven ways.

We need to spread the chores around a bit more.  I feel we lean too heavily on the two oldest kids, because the middle kids are always going to be younger than them and seem less able.  But they're not!  The older ones were doing things at their age.  Also, apparently my big boys can assemble cabinets like mini-men but they don't know how to load a dishwasher properly.  That's on me.  I need to properly show them how to do the chores I want/need them to do and not expect that they know how.

I kinda love the discipline of Lent.  Of course, we're not even a full week in, so ask me how I feel after a month!  We give up sweets at home, and it just seems to make meals so much easier and kids' attitudes more pleasant.  When I pull out strawberries after dinner, it's like I am handing out gold coins the kids get so excited for some "nature's candy".  Last night for the kids dinner, I made them burgers and gave them carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce on the side.  Nobody even asked where the chips were!  Phil and I always say that we should just eat like this all year, but then Easter comes and we're back into the too-much-sweets time again.  I love treating my kids with little goodies, they are good doobies who are very helpful and do well in school and in society.  I just need to find non-food ways to spoil them.

Every day I get tons of ads in my email.  I have decided that lent is the perfect chance to take the time to clean this up.  So when I get an ad from a company that I don't care about (which is like 99% of them) I actually click to unsubscribe from their mailing list.  It's not that hard, and I don't know why it's taken me so long to make myself do this.  I'm hoping by Easter my inbox is only full of love notes instead of solicitations.  Now to find someone who will write me love notes...

Finally, I need this reminder when the morning chaos of trying to get everyone in my car before 6:45 gets a little too loud:


Friday, March 3, 2017

7QT: Lent, Kids, and a Gift for You

It's Friday :)  but it's Lent :( so they kinda Switzerland each other out.  Linking up with Kelly because I'm not neutral in my love for linkups.


When I was trying to decide what to do for Lent, I kept seeing an ad in the parish bulletin, on their website, and mentioned at Mass, about a women's weekly group that would be reading Living in the Father's Love, a short study from the Walking with Purpose program.  

I pretty much shy away from things like this because, well, I'm shy.  I don't like talking in front of a group, and especially when it's sharing something as personal as faith, I get very nervous and flustered.  I always assume the worst, that upon entering the group, they are going to make each of us stand up and share our faith journey and I would probably die.  But I went, and it was fine.  I was nervous as the leader started calling on people to read a section or ask them what they thought about it.  I just looked down and avoided eye contact.  This is such a struggle for me.  I will openly talk to anyone one on one, but put me in a group and I'm a toddler looking for her mother's legs to hide behind.  This is why I joined this group for Lent.  It's not only a spiritual exercise for me (I really need to read more of scripture!) but it's also a major sacrifice for me to be there.  Sometimes you try to find Lent, and other times, Lent just finds you!


Eating all the things.

Brendan had his six month old physical yesterday and weighed in at 19 pounds, 26 inches long.  Phil and I definitely thought he was closer to 22 pounds as he is super heavy.  Everything looked great, the doctor mentioned over and over how strong and active he was.  I finally said "Yes, but isn't that normal?" and she replied that he seemed much more active than most babies his age.  Which made me feel a little better about how much I struggle to hold him :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hey Working Moms, You're Doing Just Fine

I just finished reading a blog post by a wonderful Christian stay at home mom who always seems to have sage advice on how to raise children.  I love her approach to raising kids - spending more time engaging them, less technology, disciplining with love, trusting your gut, basically just good old-fashioned parenting.

But...you knew there was a but coming, right?

I tend to feel really sad after reading posts by stay at home moms when they push just how important it is to be a stay at home mom.  I don't think they do it to be hurtful, I think they are trying to get across the importance of their work, and the role of being a mom.  It's just that when you can't stay at home with your kids every day, and you want to, it's always like a sword to the heart.  Like if somehow I loved my kids better, then money would magically fall from the sky and I could stop working, do the right thing and stay home.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Birthday Buddies

You know how some years your birthday is just so nice and perfect and other years it just annoys you?  I tend to get my expectations pretty high for life events which of course always sets myself up for disappointment.  Why do I do that? Major personality flaw.  Anyhoo, this year I was just so happy that it was on a Saturday and John-Paul, my birthday buddy, would be home all day with me.  Even better, it wasn't during Lent!  We've had our bday on Ash Wednesday before, so this was a major plus.  We woke up to Phil making hash browns as part of a huge breakfast.

See that handy dandy contraption?  My brother and sister-in-law told us about it last week and we amazon-primed one right up.  It's amazing!

The kids showered us both with homemade cards which just happen to be my very favorite kind.

We gave JP his big gift in the morning..a Fitbit Flex!  Now Phil and I and the three oldest boys all have activity trackers.  We are such a weird family.  Even Declan gets in the car after picking up everyone at school/daycare and says "How was school?  How many steps?" to everyone.  It cracks me up.

Friday, February 24, 2017

7QT: The Week Off


We had the week off!  Well, at least Phil and the kids did.  I've been working a couple shorter days so it's not too bad.  I used to work 60 hours a week during February break when I was a tax accountant, so only having to work 10 hours is totally a treat!


So we drove down to Maryland to see family and friends.  God blessed us with some gorgeous weather.  It was sunny and 70 degrees!  In February!!

The boys played football with their cousins and chose to be skins.  Andrew nicknamed them The Skinny Skins :)

Maggie in heaven with girl cousins!

Lucy came with us and loved running around all the acres at Nana and Gramps' house.  

Finn the Skin

Rory showing off her gymnastics moves

We celebrated JP and my birthday while we were there.  This is the first birthday he's taller than me.  The nerve!

Friday, February 17, 2017

7QT: Treadmill Running Tips and Tricks

Yesterday I was running on the treadmill at the gym and realized I totally have a method to dealing with treadmill training because I kinda hate it.  I think I'll make it my Seven Quick Takes Tips today (linking up with Kelly as usual).


I always try and pick a treadmill that is on the end of a row or at least one that is in between two empty treadmills.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when I'm slaving away on the dreadmill and someone occupies the one right.next.to.me when there are others available.  I don't want to feel your sweat on me or hear you panting in my ear!  Move along little doggy.


If for some reason I must be right next to another treadmill runner, then guess what?

That's probably only a helpful tip for competitive peeps but it's fun for me!  I sneak a peek at what the person next to me is doing and try to do it just a little bit faster.  

(Click Read More to well, read more...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DIY Parenting

DIY, or Do It Yourself, is such a popular option when it comes to most things right now.  Meals are healthier when made from scratch, decorations are more meaningful when you can personalize them, home remodels are cheaper when you put your own sweat into the mix.  With the aid of the Internet, YouTube videos, and Pinterest, you can easily look up how to do almost anything and then try and do it yourself.  But no matter how much money can be saved or how much healthier a lifestyle it will bring, there is something bigger that is gained from doing things yourself.

By DIY, you  gain a deeper relationship and satisfaction in your handiwork.

Now that craft that you just poured your heart into becomes a prized possession to the person receiving it, and the bedroom you just repainted makes you happy every time you pass by.  It's not just a bedroom now, it's your bedroom.  Sure it takes work, but isn't that where the satisfaction is found?  Isn't that how relationships are formed?

Parenting works the same way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

It's Raining Men on Valentine's Day


Had to get that one out of my system.  It seems like it is raining men, or little men, in the Martin house.   Sometimes I hear myself tell people that I have six sons and I actually have to pause because I shock myself.  Like wait, that can't be right, can it?  We need to find a family of six little ladies all around my boys' ages and betrothe them all.  Then we can just skip all the future dates and broken hearts and drama.  Sounds good.

Anyhoo, when it comes to Valentine's Day and I dream of how to show my main man how much I love him, I can't help but plan on giving all my boys something to let them feel loved and cherished.  Not to fret!  Maggie gets doted on by her Dad, and we hope to show them a glimpse of what a future relationship should look like.  Just not with us....with their pre-determined spouse as previously discussed.  Hee hee.

My big boys, who are almost 14, 12, and 10, feel so loved when they are fed a huge meal of something they like.  One of the best treats I can give them is just to let them pick a meal.  Easy peasy.  These big boys also let me hug them whenever I want, so I take advantage of that and pray it never changes.  We don't do kisses much, I'm just not into kissing my kids once they are past the toddler stage.  Is that weird?

For my littlest men, aged 5 and 2, a little gift makes them feel very special, especially when it's something their big brothers think is cool.  A special treat works for them too,  maybe some chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert, and we will find a cute Valentine's show for them to watch on Netflix. while we are driving the basketball boys to all their games.

All the school kids will be getting a package of Nutella with pretzel sticks in their lunchboxes, a treat that they always look at longingly in the checkout line but I always refuse to buy.  And they will each get a bracelet that I ordered for their stockings but didn't arrive until January.  Valentine's Day gifts for the win!

Some years we just give them a card saying we will take them to a certain movie on the weekend, or sometimes it's a new Valentine's shirt to wear to school, or even just strawberry syrup in their milk at dinner to make it pink.  Whatever it actually is doesn't matter, it truly is the thought behind it, that they are important and loved.  Boys respond so well to these little acts of love and I can't stop myself from showing them who loved them first, before I get happily replaced with all of my future daughters-in-law.

As for that amazing husband of mine, well he's getting a gift he hasn't stopped talking about since he first saw it on TV!  After all the basketball games, we are hoping to grab some takeout and enjoy some homemade creme brulee.  He may actually get a kiss from me too, as he's the only one I want to smooch.

Have fun showing all your loved ones just how much they mean to you!!