Friday, October 13, 2017

Seven Quick Takes on Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th!  Linking up with Kelly and you should too :)


Happy 100th Anniversary to Our Lady of Fatima!  

I feel like Mary's all "Just pray the Rosary already!!!  How many times do I have to tell you?"  :)  
Our beloved pastor who left us this summer has a great recitation of the rosary here.  I got it for free on Amazon Music so I can listen on my phone, it's a quick recitation with no music...perfect for our busy lives!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

If Only

If I'd only known then what I know now...

I would have rejoiced with every pregnancy test.  First reaction - gratitude and love.  I always wanted a big family, but somewhere along the way I got scared of my plans coming to fruition.  The added worry, the added expense, the added chaos of having a new baby were amongst the first thoughts floating in my mind when the test read positive.  I cried because I wasn't ready to go through it all again.  It being a pregnancy and delivery.  It being a natural, healthy occurrence for my fertile, healthy body.  It being the product of the love shared between my husband and I.  We said it with words, we said it with actions, and we were blessed with a baby from above.  I would have seen the blessing sooner, trusted more, worried less.  I was living the dream, why couldn't I see the bigger picture instead of white-knuckling through each addition?

If I'd only known then what I know now...

I wouldn't listen to all the baby advice.  I would have trusted my gut more.  I would have seen the amazing connection a baby has with their mama and just lived in the moment more.  I would have breastfed on demand and not by the clock.  I would have nursed in bed more often.  I would have sat on the floor and let the little ones climb all over me.  I still would have kept up the housework though.  Babies may not keep, but dirty dishes stay in the sink until someone cleans them.  I would have said yes more and no less.  I would have kept their sleep schedules sacred for as long as possible, because bigger kids mean less scheduled little kids. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

7QT: A Teen, My Team, and Ice Cream

It's Friday!  Linking up with Kelly and Crew like I do.


I'm not sure how it happened but we have another teenager in the house!  Andrew turned 13 yesterday and received the treasured teenager gift, a new phone!  

With his phone comes more responsibility (he can now start to babysit for short stints) and lots of rules for phone usage!  He was very excited, called his grandmother right away, then started texting people to let them know he was part of the group now :) Somebody asked him for his phone number, and he was like oh wait...what is my phone number Mom?  So cute.

We had already celebrated over the weekend for his and Eamon's joint birthdays...

11 + 13 = 24

 ...but went out to Friendly's on his actual birthday because we were running around after school with a doctor's appointment for Declan and basketball signups for Maggie, Eamon & Andrew.  Besides, the kids meals were half off (the teenager got an adult meal!) and Andrew had a free sundae coupon.  He couldn't even finish it:

Mint Cookie Sundae, takes after his father.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Whole Skinny on the Whole30

Well, it's October which means that our September Whole30 is finished!  All the angels sang alleluia and amen!  This was the first attempt Phil and I made with a Whole30 and I have a lot of thoughts about it.  Surprising ;)

If you are not familiar with the Whole30 diet, it's basically 30 days of no sugar, grains, gluten, dairy, alcohol, legumes (including peanuts) or preservatives.  There is a cult-like following of this 30 day cleanse/restart/elimination diet and many people are known to complete a Whole30 once or twice a year to reset their diets.  One of the biggest messages from the Whole30 book is that this is NOT a weight loss plan, it's a way to clean out your body and fill it with nutritious whole foods to figure out what food groups cause you issues when you add them back in.  It's not meant to be a way to eat for the rest of your life, it's a clean out, fresh start kinda thing.  The book focuses on NSV (Non Scale Victories) like feeling better, more energy, less bloated, sleeping better, cooking more, etc.

Friday, September 29, 2017

7 Lessons from High School Sports

You all know we've been a crazy sports family from the beginning.  Our kids are allowed to play one sport per season (no ice hockey or tackle football) and most of them make sure to take advantage of this.  Some of our kids are not as athletically inclined, and we don't push them into anything, but do encourage them to be active (ahem, Xander with ahem, swimming lessons).  Now that we have entered the world of high school sports, I was thinking about all the great life lessons that are being learned by my eldest son.  We all know the many physical and mental benefits of staying active, but there are some lessons I never considered would come from being a high school athlete, such as:



Our kids take showers or baths every night (sometimes we skip every other day in the winter if they have dry skin or haven't played outside) because they get sweaty and dirty every day.  They either have gym class, play a sport, or just run around enough at recess and after school to need a shower each day.  So hygiene isn't something that needs to be taught in this house.  But, since high school sports have started, there's more of an urgency to shower each day (right upon coming home from practice/games), airing out cleats and shinguards instead of letting them sit in a sports bag, applying deodorant and bringing a change of socks and shoes if not going to be picked up right away, etc.  There's a good healthy dose of keeping oneself presentable and smellsentable, if you will.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The 5th Grade Birthday and Cell Project

Oh my little buddy, Eamon, you're a whole year older and I love you a whole lot more, which doesn't make sense because I already loved you so much, but I've said that before.

The birthday boy got to pick breakfast (he chose chocolate chip banana muffins to bring to his class) and got some good snacks in his lunch box.  He also had a big science project due the next day, but brought it in on his birthday so we could celebrate that night without worrying about finishing up the project.  Here are his animal (orange) and plant (green) cells:

Friday, September 22, 2017

7QT: A Tree, A Warranty & Pornography

Linking up with Kelly because it's Friday!


I've mentioned it before, but when I go for a run alone I call on my Guardian Angel to make himself really big and powerful and run alongside me, protecting me from any bad guys.  (I love my GA so much, I hope you all remember you have one with you always!)  Anyway, yesterday after two rainy days and a forecast of rain for the following day, I really wanted to take the chance to run outside.  But it was windy...however, what harm can wind do besides mess up my hair?  I secured my ponytail and headed out.  About two miles in, a tree branch swooped down and almost hit me.  Phew!  I paused for a sec and thanked my GA for helping me avoid that!  At mile 4.5, a branch fell from a tree  Thanks again, GA!  If I hadn't paused from that first near hit, I probably would have been hit by the second branch.  I was contemplating God's timing and His love for me (seriously running is a form of prayer for me) and being so thankful that I was kept safe but decided to head back lest I test my luck.  As soon as I turned onto the next street, I see a man and woman getting out of their van.  The woman is checking out the hood of her car, and the man is turned around taking a photo of this:

I stopped and asked if they were ok, and they said "Yes, but that tree just fell on our car!"  Luckily they were on the other side of the street and only the tip of the tree hit them, not the trunk.  "You just missed it" the guy called out to me, "lucky you!".  Lucky me indeed, because I was on the sidewalk next to wear the tree was planted, and if I had arrived a minute or two earlier, that tree and I would have collided.  It left me a little jittery and I ran home faster than ever.  So the moral of the story is...don't leave home without your GA or on a windy day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Guarding Our Kids' Eyes

Some time last year, Phil discovered that one of our boys had completed a search on his iPad for an inappropriate word that he had heard.  He didn't know what the word meant, but knew it was inappropriate from the tone of the conversation, and so wanted to look it up less he feel stupid.  When Phil discovered this by looking at his search history, we both kinda freaked out but had the good sense to remain level-headed when approaching our son.  Truth be told, I let Phil take this task for the team!  Phil talked to him and found out that he hadn't known what people were talking about, was too embarrassed to ask us because he knew it was bad, and as soon as he saw what it was he said he felt gross and turned off the iPad right away.  Phil was super calm and understanding and just explained that we have to be careful what we view online because there are bad things and bad people out there and certain images can get stuck in our head and mess with us.  The boy understood and was embarrassed but thankful to be caught because it had been weighing on him.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Theme Parks and God's Generosity

Not too far from our house, we have a little amusement park that has grown so much since the last time we went, 9 whole years ago!  Edaville Family Theme Park is definitely geared towards little kids, but they are expanding to include a water ride and bumper boats for the older crew.  We seriously had so much fun taking Maggie, Xander, Declan, and Brendan on Sunday.

While you look at these Edaville photos, let me tell you a story about God's generosity...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dude Perfect was Perfection

Right around this time last year, Andrew and Eamon heard about Dude Perfect and immediately became obsessed.  

They asked for tshirts for their birthday and Dude Perfect toys for Christmas.  They watched every single Dude Perfect video on youtube during their precious screen time.  They read everything they could about them, and were very impressed that they seemed like nice, funny, Christian family guys.  So were we.  The boys started making up trick shots of their own and getting ideas together to make their own videos (like every other boy in love with Dude Perfect, I'm sure!) and Dude Perfect has just been so entrenched in our lives.  They can't wait for new videos to come out like we used to struggle to wait a week between Full House episodes.  Andrew even wrote them a fan letter this summer...only to have it returned because of a bad address :(

Friday, September 8, 2017

7QT: Whole Family, Whole30, Wholey Good Deals

Linking up with Kelly and the Kool Kids because it's Friday morning y'all!


  I got up early to walk the dog and blog and even though I'll crash and burn by 8 pm, I can't take these warm mornings for granted!  I have severe FOMO on great weather days or when I see somebody running.  Even if I've already done my this normal?


We were able to celebrate with my side of the family on Saturday.  We try to get together for Labor Day Weekend and celebrate the August/September birthdays (there's a lot), then for Halloween to celebrate October/November birthdays (Again, a lot), then Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter (spring birthdays), and July 4 (summer birthdays).  The winter birthdays kind of get lost in the shuffle, but there aren't too many of them.  The birthday kids get ONE present from their godparents and that's it.  Easy peasy doesn't break the bank squeezy.  One of my sisters couldn't make it, but here's the rest of the familia:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Savoring Family Milestones

Today was a big day in the Martin Casa...Declan went to school for the first time!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Exercise: Self Care vs. Self Indulgent

At some point this summer, a friend who was giving me a compliment in front of the group, mentioned that I was really good at making time for myself.  It was something she struggled with and she wanted me to share any tips or tricks I might have.

It's true, I am good at squeezing in a workout almost every day, and I call it my me-time.  I have made exercise time a priority in my schedule and have a personality that really NEEDS it in order to keep all the other areas of my life sane.  Besides, keeping our bodies healthy is actually what we are supposed to be doing in thanksgiving for God's creation.  I'm a better e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g when I've done some physical activity (just ask my husband who hands me my sneakers when I'm having a stressed out day).   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back to School, Back to Reality

It's the most wonderful time of the year...for parents...maybe not so much for teachers.

My Fab 5 started school today!  Declan will start preschool next week, and we might just have to redo the school photos to include him.  Sorry not sorry in advance.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Back to School Shopping

Back to School Shopping has always given me a funny feeling in my stomach.  When I was a kid, it was a mixture of excitement and nerves for school to start.  Would I look cool?  Would I make new friends?  Would anyone notice my new hair style?  Now that I'm the mom, I still get that feeling in my stomach but it's more about making sure everyone has what they need, everybody feels ready, and I spread out the shopping enough so that it doesn't all hit the same credit card bill!

Before I focus on school, there are always great end-of-summer swim deals going on at Land's End (the best place to buy such items, in my humble opinion).

This swimsuit top is only $16.99!!!

This swim skirt is only $18.99 in pink or teal!!!

I bought this same swimsuit combo (different colors) at the beginning of this summer and it cost me over $80!!  I was desperate, but don't be me back in May...get the better price now!

Maggie will be wearing this swim shirt (only $10.99) and swim shorts (only $12.99) next year!

In May, I bought her a similar pair and it cost me over $40!  She insisted on a shirt and shorts, and it really works for her athletic build and gives her confidence in a swimsuit!

I didn't need any boys' suits - but there are huge sales going on over there.  Even the cute swim shoes are on sale for those rocky beaches.  

OK, summer's over!  School's here!  

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.