Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Signs of Spring

We have another winter storm coming tomorrow, but today starts Spring anyway!  It seems that even Mother Nature gets a little backed up on her to do list, so all of us Mothers can use that excuse ;)

My three wee lads

St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day were celebrated by our Garlic and Gaelic clan.  We ate shepherd's pie (with green mint shakes for dessert) on St. Paddy's Day and lasagna (with rice krispie treats for dessert) on St. Joe's Day.  Those are two big, easy, make-ahead meals for my family of overeaters.  And I discovered I should not make rice krispie treats anymore because I couldn't stop eating them.  Treats always taste so good when you give them up for Lent!

Friday, March 16, 2018

7QT: March Madness

Can I think up 7 things I'm mad about this month?  You betcha!  Go see Kelly for nicer takes.


Weigh-in day was yesterday and Phil lost 3.5 pounds this week (10.5 total) while I lost 2 pounds (5.4 total).  

It is what it is.  

(unfair.  that's what it is.)  

My favorite meals this week were:

Homemade meatballs and sauce with zoodles (3 points per meatball)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Snow School

Well this latest winter storm brought us TWO days of no school/work along with 15 inches of the white stuff.  We headed out with the kids to play this morning.  By we, I mean Phil.  I just ventured out to take some photos and then it was right back inside to clean the house while everyone was out of it :)  Brendan (18 months) lasted so long out there!  A true northener!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunny Sunday Sights and Silly Sayings

What a wonderfully sunny Sunday we had!  It was chilly, but we had no basketball games or work, so we got in some good quality family time with a side of Vitamin D.  I just wanted to remember these days before the next Nor'easter/Blizzard/Winter Storm from Hades hits us tonight.

Maggie got in trouble for her tendency to fight back when we ask her to do something...
Maggie: Sorry, Mom, I just went to Confession and now I ruined it because of my anger problems.
Me: Maggie, you don't have anger problems, you just have to learn to control your temper.
Maggie:  Well I wish I wasn't Irish so I didn't have such a quick temper!

Friday, March 9, 2018

7QT: Losing Lent and Weight and Sleep

It's Friday!  It's Friday! You can't have meat but you can have all the 7QT you want over at Kelly's!


Me and Lent have had a rocky relationship this year. We started out like newlyweds on a honeymoon, every day was so easy and rewarding and I felt great about life.  I was using my prayer journal and reading Scripture each evening, praying the rosary daily, and refraining from sweets and Instagram like a boss.  Then we went through a trial separation.  The prayer time wasn't so easy to find nor looking as attractive as it had in the past.  It felt like a lot of effort on my part.

But, I think we are now back on track.  I am doing really well with my no-social-media fast (meaning I haven't cheated, not that it's easy!) and only ate ice cream one night and some chocolate another night because I forgot!  It's always the added prayer time that gives me the most grief, and we all know that comes from down under (and I don't mean Australia, mates!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Care and Feeding of a Big Family

I think the logistics of big family life are always what intrigued me the most.  I would look at big families and wonder how they handled the grocery shopping, meal planning, errands, laundry, house cleaning, chauffeuring kids around, etc.  I wanted to be a fly on the wall to see how it all worked.  I come from a family of eight, but being one of the youngest children in a big family is different than being the MOM of a big family.  Hello, responsibility!  Although life can get overwhelming in these areas at various points, I feel like we have mostly got a good system going, and thought I'd try and share what we do and would love to hear any tips you have in the comments!

Meal Planning:

This one is fairly new to me, but now it's become such a good habit.  I have an excel spreadsheet with each day written down to plan the meal, and then sections for groceries that I'll need, super simple:

Usually we try to make a plan of meals on Friday night or Saturday morning and then shop at some point during the weekend.  We ask the kids if there's any meal they want, and add that in too.  It's really helped us save time and money each week.  If for some reason we haven't meal planned, I walk around the store like a zombie throwing in random items, hoping to make something out of nothing for the rest of the week.  I don't know how I lasted so long without meal planning!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Seven Quickies on a Rainy Day

TGIF and 7QT:


Well the biggest news of the week is that I joined Weight Watchers.


But this time it's different (she types optimistically) because it's an At Work plan where a leader comes to our school once a week to weigh us in and have a meeting with us for 12 weeks.  The cost is $156 BUT my health insurance will reimburse $150 per year, so it's only $6 total!  There's 15 of us doing it so it's kinda fun to be in a group with friendly coworkers and then you can encourage each other during the week (and smack cookies out of each other's hands).

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Heart February and February Hearts Me

How is it the last day of February???  I know February gets a lot of hate as far as the months go, but I personally love it.  It's a short winter month (as opposed to January and March which seem so long!), we get a week off from school, there's Valentine's Day, and of course, the best day - the double birthdays of John-Paul and me (I?)!

After a morning filled with Mass, Religious Ed (him) and a workout (me), we went out to lunch to carb-load for another big year ahead:

Monday, February 26, 2018

February Break in Freeport, Maine: The Adults Only Version

For Christmas, our goddaughter Haley had given us the gift of an overnight of babysitting.  We planned a trip up to Freeport, Maine at the tail end of Christmas break...and then Declan came down with the stomach bug.  Unsure of whether or not the bug would spread through the house, we cancelled the trip and decided to go later on in the spring when the weather would be nicer.  My parents had reserved a week at a condo in New Hampshire for last week, and we figured that would be our winter trip up north anyway.  But then my mom hurt her hip, and my sister (who was supposed to share the week with us) got the flu, and that NH trip also got cancelled.  The cherry on top of all the sadly cancelled plans was that Valentine's Day fell on Ash Wednesday and it just seemed like 2018 was starting to be a very disappointing year.  I wanted to get away real bad.  I looked at the weather reports for Maine and the tail end of vacation week looked nice, and the Inn where we had originally wanted to stay had a room available (with a jacuzzi!) and Haley was available to babysit and even the NFP angels were smiling upon us...so we booked it and off we went!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

February Break, The Kids Version

 February Break 2018 was a good one!  I worked only one day, and we tried to do something fun with the kids each day to make the most of our staycation.  We had originally planned on going up to New Hampshire for a few days, but the trip got cancelled because of sick/injured family members and I admit I always feel a bit guilty that my kids don't go on real vacations.  But they have parents who love them!  Lots of siblings!  Etc. etc. etc.  Onward and upward...

Phil made this bacon and spinach fritatta for breakfast one morning, and I thought it was pretty:

The littles got matching clearance outfits, and I reminisced about the days I used to dress the older kids up all matchy-matchy:

Shirts and Pants (mismatched footwear not included!)
Every time I take out my camera, Brendan (age 18 months) runs to this spot in the kitchen and says Cheese!  He is well-trained :)

Friday, February 16, 2018

7QT: Olympics, VaLENTines and Crushing Dreams

Happy Friday!!


I started some Notes from the Couch about the Olympics this year, but then kind of lost interest.  I LOVE seeing the back stories more than the actual sports events this time around.  When I see videos of the athletes training, I say to Phil how I wish I could train like an Olympian, and then he reminds me that means I would have to be best  in the world at a specific sport, and then all my dreams are dashed.  Phil Martin, Olympic Dream Dasher.  

Anyway, from the opening ceremony,I thought the hats were cute (and really expensive!)
But the gloves were U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi:

I knew they looked familiar!  Dumb and Dumber!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lent's Pinch

I've been dragging my feet as we head into Lent 2018.  I'm not feeling terribly motivated on how to fast, sacrifice and give alms this year, and to be honest, hearing about all the books and journals and best-laid plans of others left me wanting to fight against it even more.  I'm very rational that way.  So mature, so adulty.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Good Men Raising Good Men

While digging through Phil's wallet to get a copy of his license, I stumbled across this beautiful sight:

Phil made a promise back when he was just a young teenage boy to wait for true love and live a chaste life, and he is a faithful man of his word.  Finding this card and picturing my husband signing it filled my heart with love and my eyes with tears. He is SUCH a good guy, not just a nice guy, not just a kind guy, not just a holy guy, but a very very GOOD guy.  Although I had my own Dad as a great example of an all-around good guy, for some reason when I started dating I didn't think that I would ever find a man like that for myself.  But God is good and led us to each other, and I am so lucky and grateful for my husband.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Five Favorites and Two More Things

Linking up with Kelly for my list of Seven Quick Takes and also with Ashley for Five Favorites.  TGIF y'all!!

Some things I've been loving lately...

1)  Pants without buttons. 

 I've told you about some of my fave pull-on work pants before, and now for some pull-on jeans that are just a step up from pajamas but socially acceptable to wear in public:

Jeggings for me (above) and Maggie (below)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Catholic Schools Week 2018: Will Work for Education

It's Catholic School's Week!  My kids are excited for the fun activities planned at their wonderful Catholic Schools, mostly the dress down days :)  Phil and I are huge supporters of Catholic Education, as we literally work in it to be able to provide it for our kids.  We'll always be poor, but our kids will be well-educated.  We think Catholic schooling is so important at every age.  As parents, we understand that no matter where we send our children to school, we are their primary educators.  If the school is teaching them something that goes against our beliefs or values, we are there to guide our kids back on the right path.  But by putting them in a good Catholic school, we don't even need to worry about this - everyone is on the same page.  The goal is to educate our children to get them to Heaven.  

Catholic Preschool:

Deciding where to send your sweet toddler to preschool can be an excruciating choice.  You want them to be loved and cared for and taught in the same manner that you would teach them.  You want a teacher who scoops them up and gives them a hug instead of worrying about bureaucracy and the rules about touching a child.  When I worked in a daycare in college, we weren't allowed to hug the little children.  It was so sad and I broke the rule daily.  They're sweet little kids who need to feel safe and loved!  Their little minds are being formed, and these years are the best for getting in great theology lessons with simple songs, prayer time, stories, etc.  The preschool kids love their faith (become like little children!) and eat it up with a spoon.  My preschoolers sing songs to Our Lady under their breath as they color a picture of a Cross.  They're going to be singing, they're going to be coloring, they're going to be read to....why not make it faith based?

Friday, January 26, 2018

7 Parenting Memes

Because parenting is hard and some days you just need to laugh!!  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Letter to My Most Difficult Child

Dear Ye Whom Shall Never Be Named,

(unless you know me in real life and then you probably know exactly which child I'm referring to)

You were such an easy baby, one of our easiest in fact.  We thanked God everyday for the gift of your life.  You grew a little to become a funny toddler and had a crew of siblings ready to laugh at your every move.  And you were (are!) so smart.  You seem to have a deeper understanding of the world than somebody your age should.  You would use this wisdom to make funny remarks or ask sometimes inappropriate questions, anything to get a laugh.  You were our class clown for sure.

This got you in a lot of trouble.  First at home as we tried to teach you right from wrong.  Then in public, as you embarrassed us and we tried to help you make better choices.  Finally at school, where speaking out of turn and trying to get a laugh are not exactly the way to your teacher's heart.  I still remember the day you were sent to the Principal's office for repeating a swear word over and over because your buddy thought it was hilarious. It was one of the first times in my mothering career that I felt a bit hopeless.  What were we doing wrong?  Why were you so incredibly different from the rest?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Send Haley to the Convent!

I've written about our "goddaughter" Haley before, but I am so excited to share that she was just formally accepted to join the Franciscan Sisters TOR out in Toronto, Ohio!!  I've started a GoFundMe page for her so we can help her get there!  Please prayerfully consider a donation to her vocation.  Thanks!!

Haley, the beautiful young lady you see in the picture, needs help in getting to the convent!  Haley was just recently accepted to join the Franciscan Sisters T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother located in Toronto, Ohio.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

7QT: If I Had A Million Dollars

What would YOU buy if you suddenly had a million bucks that you HAD to spend in ONE year (because honestly my first inclination would be to invest it)?  Here's what I would currently spend it on:


Just something simple ;)

A new house, which would probably eat up $700,000 easy since we live in the expensive Northeast and need room for our family of nine plus I'd want an in-law suite for my parents.  I would get a house with 6 bedrooms (Master, two older boys, two middle boys, two little boys, Maggie, and a spare) and 3.5 bathrooms (a Master bath, a boys bathroom, a girl's bathroom, and a downstairs half bath).  I'd want a nice sized yard but not too big because Phil and I aren't the greatest at yardwork.  $700,000 may not even cut it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The 80/20 Rule: How to Not Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

Last week, I had a nearly perfect week of eating and working out.  I'm the type of person who is pretty moderate in how I eat and exercise.  I truly love to workout and I feel so good when I make healthy food choices.  Is it still a decision I have to make every single time I want to put something in my mouth?  Yes!  But practice makes perfect, and eventually good choices lead to good habits lead to a good and healthy lifestyle.

Now, I'm not Mrs. Poster Child for Physical Health at all.  I have probably 20 pounds I could stand to lose, I loooooove chocolate and chips and ice cream and carbs.  I look my age and I look like a mom - both great things - why would I want to look like a child and *not* like a mom, my most cherished role?  As much as Phil and I want to take care of ourselves in a healthy way, we also want to enjoy the heck out of this life God has blessed us with.  Because, YOLO.

Friday, January 12, 2018

7QT: Can I Catch a Break?

Linking up with Kelly for some random 7 moments from the past week.


John-Paul sprained his ankle, so apparently HE can catch a break.  Hehehe, I crack myself up.  Crack.  I did it again.  He had just finished running his second race in the track meet, and was trying to slow himself down, and planted his foot a little on the side.  He is currently on crutches and can't put his weight on it but it seems to be getting a little better each day.  It's so ironic that he threw his back out in soccer and now sprained his ankle in track...too many injuries is my reasoning for not letting my kids play football or hockey.  Oy vey, I think being a mom of six boys, I just need to accept that my life will be full of injuries.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Feeling Like I'm Done

What's the most blasphemous phrase for a Catholic mom to utter?  I used to think it was the answer of "I'm done!" to the question of having more children. 


Unless we physically can't bear any more babies, or have been instructed by medical professionals that we shouldn't try again, we are supposed to be open to the possibility of a new baby.  Even in  our later fertile years.  Even if we already have a gaggle of children.  We might feel like we want to be done, but know that we probably shouldn't say that.  Though we can do our part to try and avoid a pregnancy, the truth is that if we are loving our spouses and not contracepting, we may not be done until the Menopausal Lady sings.

My mom had her 5th baby (me) at age 42 and her 6th baby at age 44.  I am 38.  Do the math and if I'm anything like my mother (and I am) I could still have a couple more pregnancies in this old body.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Back to the Ordinary and How Not to Die

It feels like we have all had a month off from regular life.  With our Christmas break from school/work, then one day back at school, then the rest of the week off for the snow storm, it's hard to believe we are already in the second week of January.  The break was so good, especially the peaceful reprieve from all the sports practices and games.  We were able to get a lot of cleaning and organizing completed in the house (well the cleaning is a neverendingstory) but it feels so good to walk upstairs knowing the kids bedrooms are dusted and vacuumed and drawers all cleared out.  The boys were pulling out lost clothes from under their beds that still had cat hair on them!  The cat has been gone since November!  Eeewww.  I know if I was a stay at home mom everyday, each day wouldn't be so productive, but I really do try and make good use of wintery snow days when they pop up.  I have to!  Our regular lives are just too busy.

And that's where we are now, back to regular life, back to Ordinary Time.  After all the Christmas feasting, we are happy to start some healthy meal plans again (read: no excuse for desserts and treats 24/7).  I am reading How Not to Die and while the first half of the book is a little TMI (not in an inappropriate way, just literally Too Much Info on medical studies) the second half of the book is great on explaining how we should be eating and why.  My brother, who is a doctor, heard I was reading the book and said the author is just trying to convert everyone to veganism.  I can totally see that when I read, but I also truly believe eating a more plant-based diet can't be anything but GOOD for anyone.  I'm certainly not giving up animal products (I'm not sure how to get enough protein without them) but I want to move towards more plant-based meals. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Christmas 2017 and New Years 2018

I just have to post the photos from our Christmas and New Years or else did it really even happen?  This year I was so into Christmas prep, shopping for gifts was fun (I even crafted a couple!) and I listened to Christmas music nonstop from Black Friday through Christmas day on the radio.  Usually I burn out sometime in mid December.  The Spirit was Strong!  The kids had their Christmas Concert at school...

...which is a packed house that can be a little claustrophobic, but in the end, it's a cute performance.  We went to Mass on Christmas Eve at 4 pm, and I think because the Patriots game was still finishing up when people would have had to leave their houses, it wasn't as crowded as years past.  Winner! (As were the Pats!)  We had to take our traditional After Christmas Mass Family Photo,  and I should probably set up a little gallery wall with all these photos through the years, they're my favorites.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Healthy New Year GIVEAWAY!

Over on Instagram, I have teamed up with some friends to bring you a Healthy New Year Giveaway!  We each picked a personal favorite item that helps us achieve our wellness goals - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - and wanted to share one big package valued at over $200!!  The items are as follows: