Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The First Year of Preschool is Completed!

Declan graduated from preschool on Monday.  Does this mean he's going to Kindergarten next year?  Nope!  He's moving on to another year of preschool.  He finished the 3 year old preschool and will enter the 4 year old preschool in the Fall.  Two years of preschool ain't bad though, three of our kids had three full years of preschool before Kindergarten...at every graduation, we would joke they should be ready by 3rd grade by the time they leave preschool.  So many years of school under their belts before school ever really starts.  Maybe that's why they're all great students?  Ha!


Declan is soooooo sweet and sooooo shy, as I'm sure these photos make obvious!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Motherhood Is A Journey, Not A Destination

I was trying to take a nice photo with Brendan, but the little lapper wasn't having it.  He kept running away.  So instead, I hid so that he would have to come to me...

Where's Mommy?


Friday, June 1, 2018

7QT on the First of June!

How is it June 1 already?  How????  But you can get a free donut at Dunkin Donuts today, so go ahead and indulge.  It's a holiday after all ;)  #nationaldonutday 

1)


I get serious FOMO in nice weather.  Last Saturday, it was a beautiful, sunny, hot day and Phil and my dad did yard work for the majority of it.  I felt like I was seriously missing an opportunity to do some fun outdoorsy activity with the kids and it really bothered me all day.  Do you get that feeling too?  Maybe it's a New England thing because our beautiful spring days are so numbered between freezing winter and humid hot summer?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Finding My Chill, Part One: Type A for Anxious

After Alexander was born, I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for a couple of years, to the point where it was interfering with my daily life - my choices, my actions, my future plans.  I did talk with my doctor about it, got some medication to have "in my pocket" which made me feel better, but tried to change small things in my lifestyle before jumping on the daily medication bandwagon.  I didn't want to reach that point, and luckily my anxiety wasn't severe enough to warrant it.  I've slowly been able to mostly overcome it, thanks be to God, in baby steps with small lessons learned along the way.  So this is a tale of my journey to finding my chill again.  (Should I include a disclaimer about how mental health issues are a real struggle, as much as any physical health issue, and anyone who finds themselves feeling depressed or anxious should consult a doctor, which I am not?  Or do you all already know that?  You do.  Great!  Moving on...)

Yeeaaahhhh.....twins.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Parade in Photos


We are so lucky to have our town's Memorial Day parade pass right in front of our house, so all we have to do is dress patriotically and show up!


My littlest Patriots :)

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Royal Recipe to Feed a Crowd: Chicken a la King

I made Chicken a la King for dinner this weekend, inspired by the Royal Wedding of course!  You all think Prince Harry was telling Meghan that she looked amazing, but what you don't know is that he really said "Colleen's Chicken a la King is amazing" which was kind of awkward, so the media portrayed this instead.


It's a real crowd pleaser in our house, I have always loved it and even chose it as my bridal shower lunch way back when.  I have  had requests to share some big family meals that everybody likes, are healthy-ish, and won't break the bank.  This is a good one!  I usually start making it the day before I plan to serve it, because I cook the chickens, but you can always just use a rotisserie chicken or quickly cook some chicken breasts - it's super adaptable!  This is less of a "recipe" and more of a "suggestion" because I never measure or make it the exact same way. Just read through it and you'll get the general idea of what to do!  Here goes:

Friday, May 18, 2018

7QT: A Pope, An Anniversary, A Tour and a Tale

1)

Happy Birthday Pope Saint John Paul II - I love you and miss you! 


How do I always remember that it's his birthday today (besides that he's my heavenly boyfriend and I'll be sitting next to him IF I ever make it to heaven)?  Because Phil and I wanted to get married on his birthday back in 2002...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spring Cleaning (Again) and Life Has Meaning (Again)

For Mother's Day, I asked the kids to clean my van as a gift to me.  Really, I should be more particular about the state of my van, but mostly the junk collects and the dust accumulates until I can't take it anymore and we do a big family clean out.  I'm just realizing if I ask for a car cleaning as my Mother's Day gift, Christmas gift and birthday gift, I'll have a clean car tri-annually (I guess that's not a word?).  

Anyway, the day after it was cleaned, I filled it up with gas and bought an air freshener to hang.  Can I just tell you that every time I get into my car, I take a deep breath and smile?  It's true.  My dad always says when his truck is clean, he feels like it runs better.  That's also true.  Just keeping this little space of mine clean and fresh is bringing me so much joy and peace.  It's like Ahhhhhhhh, I can even breathe better!  I love life again!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

7QT: Brooklyn 99, Martin 5k, and 3 Book Winner

Happy Almost Weekend!!!

1)

The news that seriously bummed me out this morning...Brooklyn 99 is being cancelled!!  Guys, this is my favorite show on TV right now, Phil and I literally laugh out loud at every episode.  They did this opening a couple of weeks ago, perhaps the funniest opening of a show I've ever seen:


If you don't watch this show, please get a Hulu subscription and binge on every episode.  I'm really thinking that they will get picked up somewhere else, because it's just too good!!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Heroism in the Ordinary

I have the privilege of working with a whole bunch of really nice, really diverse colleagues.  One of my closest friends at work is old enough to be my mother, (well maybe just an aunt) but she feels so motherly that many of us think of her that way.  She spends everyday after work visiting her own mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, and helping her elderly dad and the nursing staff with anything needed.  In her limited spare time between these two "jobs", she babysits her grandkids to allow her son and his wife to go on dates, go grocery shopping alone, or even just to have a break.  She might think that what she's doing is just "being a mom/daughter/grandma" but I think she's heroic.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Things I Wish I Liked But Just Don't

Do you ever feel like there's things that everybody (and their mother) like but you can't even pretend to enjoy?  It happens to me all the time.  


As a grown woman in the last year of my thirties (sob!) I feel that I should like the following...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Final Question: Are You Prepared to Accept Children Lovingly From God?

Scene:
Her in a beautiful white gown.
Him in a handsome tux.
Their friends and family watching with hearts full of joy.

A priest begins to speak...

"Have you come here to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?"  
"I have", answer both sweethearts, gazing into each other's eyes.
                  
"Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live?"                        
"I am", they answer again in unison, unable to control their affection for one another.

"Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"
Silence.  With panicked looks in their eyes, they both whisper "I am" knowing that's the last question they have to answer before they can get married already.  Let's just focus on our marriage, they think, we will worry about starting a family later.

Friday, May 4, 2018

7QT: Sacraments, Saints, and Stretching

Happy FRIDAY!!!!

1)

John-Paul got Confirmed on Wednesday evening!  He is now John-Paul Michael Martin. 

Congrats to these cute 9th graders!

My goddaughter (and JP's cousin) received the Sacrament together

With his awesome sponsor, Haley

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Winner! and MAY I Suggest Some Mother's Day Gift Ideas?




The winner of the Three New Catholic Books Giveaway is...


Jessica Ruehle

Congrats Jessica!  Email me your address and we will get the books sent right out.  Thanks!


Since it's already May (what? how?) and Mother's Day is right around the corner, MAY (get it?) I suggest a couple of items for the special mother in your life?  Let's do this along the themes of the Five Love Languages so you can make sure you are showing her love in the way she appreciates the most...

Friday, April 27, 2018

7QT: Going Out, Shopping Online, and Big Kid Problems

It's Friday and we're going out tonight!!  Isn't that the best feeling?  I hope you all can get in a date night this weekend too!

1)

We're going to our children's school gala tonight.  It's one of my favorite events of the year!  Lots of friends and bidding on cool items and a live auction that is fun to watch.  



I'm a member of our School Events Committee, so we have been working on this gala for months and months (I only do a small amount compared to the other moms who do so.much.more) so it's always nice to see it come to fruition.  Plus, food and drinks and music.  Whee!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Three New Catholic Books: A Review and GIVEAWAY

There have been a bunch of new Catholic books published recently.  Forget Spring Cleaning, it's Spring Reading right now!  I have been able to read each of these books and have teamed up with the authors to offer a giveaway to one of you!  



That's right, the winner will receive ALL THREE of the following books:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Baby Yourself, Baby

Can I have another cookie?

But I'm not tired.

I don't wanna go outside.

Vegetables are gross!


The things our kids say, am I right?  They always seem to want to choose the unhealthy choice...more candy, less sleep, more screen time, less veggies.  As parents, it's our job to teach them how to make the healthy choice and hope that one day they will grow up imitating those same decisions.  We take good care of our kids.  We make sure they get enough rest, enough fresh air, enough healthy foods, have a prayer life, and we steer them away from bad choices.  


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Day My Purse Was Stolen

Ok, I think I'm ready to write about That Very Bad Day.

It's been a week already!  I 've gone through all the stages of grief - denial, anger, chocolate, depression, ice cream, and acceptance.

So here's what happened...partly so I can remember the incident, partly so I can stop retelling the story all the time, and partly so I can protect any other innocent moms out there with big mutha bags from getting them stolen.  Full disclosure, I'm gonna reference the thieves as plural men because this is how they look in my head:


even though we all know that thieves can look like this:


Alrighty then!  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Spring Break 2018: To Maryland We Go!

This year we drove down to Maryland to visit Phil's side of the family for our April break.  Phil normally does ALL the driving EVERYWHERE but upon reaching his brother's house, realized he had forgotten his wallet, and so I had to drive the Beast (12 passenger van) for the 3rd time ever.  Jesus took the wheel and we all arrived back to his parent's house safely.  


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hershey Park, You Sweet Thang

We did it.

We surprised the kids.

On our way to visit family in Maryland, we stopped to eat breakfast around 10 am.  We had all been in the van for 6 hours already, and the kids were hungry and tired.  As they were eating their breakfast sandwiches from Dunkin, we told them we were about to go right next door to Hershey Park.


They were too tired to fully comprehend at first, but then got super excited (or as excited as teens and tweens can get!)


As a large family with a wide spread of ages to account for, there are not that many activities where everyone can have a good time at the same time!  It's a sad downside to our awesome big family life, but it is a reality.  When we can find a place like Hershey Park that accommodates all the ages (from 15 down to 1) and is large enough to keep them entertained but small enough to visit in one day, we are all over that!!

Friday, April 13, 2018

7QT: Bad News, Vacation Rules, and Book Reviews

Joining Kelly as is my Friday M.O. :)

1)

Oh my heart, if you follow Sarah at Clover Lane, please read her latest blog post and join me in prayers for her.  She has been an inspiration to moms everywhere, and we have been blogging friends since we both started ten years ago!

2)

Yesterday was just a day filled with bad news as we heard of three deaths that shook us to our core.  The first was an alumni from our high school who was an officer on the Cape, killed while serving a warrant.  The second was an Assistant Principal at a middle school who jumped off a bridge leaving behind a wife and two kids, and the third was the CYO director (and my oldest boys' boss) who died suddenly.  Lord grant eternal peace to these souls, Amen.

3)

Story Land 2010

On a happier note, we are planning a summer trip to Story Land this year for the little ones to enjoy the magic that happens there.  I'm happy to share this discount code for $6 off the ticket price for any of my readers who want to plan their visit as well!  Maybe we will see ya there!

4)


I was sent a copy of Before I Was Me by Frank Fraser to read with my kiddos.  It is a beautiful story of how much God created each of us to be very important, and always loved by God.  The illustrations are so sweet and appealing as well, I would definitely recommend this book as a baby/toddler gift!  So sweet.


That's EXACTLY how I picture our heavenly Father!

5)

We are off on April Break next week!  We will be visiting family and friends and hopefully surprising the kids with a few fun things planned to make it feel like a "real vacation".  I'm so excited to meet my two newest nieces and let the kids run around with their cousins.  I'm also looking forward to finishing this book.  The weather looks like it will be a lot warmer than what we're used too!  I think we will be packing shorts and tshirts along with our winter wear.  Yay!  

6)

Speaking of packing, I still dread the chore, but it gets so much easier with bigger kids!  I make one list writing out what they need to pack (toothbrush, jeans, sweatpants, pjs, etc) and the older four kids can just look at the list and pack themselves.  It's wonderful.  I do admit that I check it before I zip up the suitcase, but more often than not they are right on the money.  The younger set is still my responsibility but nobody really cares what a 4 year old is wearing anyway.  I also make a list of what we need to buy at the store before we go (snacks, water bottles, dog bones, etc) and a list of what we need to at home before we leave (clean bathrooms, give fish their weekly food, grab pillows and sound machines, blah blah blah).  If it's not on the list, then it's sure to get missed, and I have nobody to blame but myself.  

7)

How about something happy for a Friday!!  I found this video of the four kids having a Cookie Face Race in 2011.  They all look so sweet and innocent, and Eamon and Maggie totally crack me up.  I don't want to sound like a nag, but man, please take photos and videos of your kids because when they get older, it is so fun to reminisce with them.  You may not think they're acting super adorable today, but trust me in ten years, you will!



Have a wonderful, Spring-weather-filled weekend spent hugging your family and friends close!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It's All Good

Life.

Is.

So.

Busy.

I always think it is only going to be busy for a season, usually a literal sports season, and then slow down.  But something else fills it's place, or I fill it's place with something else, and we're running ragged constantly.  The past two days have been especially rough between social and volunteer events, a case of strep which involved two hours at Urgent Care, a couple big projects due for my kids, etc.  It's overwhelming, really, parenting seven kids and working full-time so that you're trying to cram everything that needs to be done into the few hours at the end of each day.  If I focus on how hard this journey can be, I will wind up crying in bed with a bag of chocolates, so instead I'm gonna focus on the positives!  

Friday, April 6, 2018

7 Lessons I Learned From My First Job

First jobs are the best lesson makers, yes?  It's like a little segment of a developing teenage brain gets blown wide open with all the street smarts entering in.  My parents had a couple of homemade ice cream shops on the Cape and all six of us kids worked there.  I was just 6 when the first one opened, and started off by filling napkins and spoons and wiping tables.  I finally started serving customers at age 12 and was a manager at age 16.  I learned a LOT about life from scooping ice cream, such as:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Life Savers: What St. Maximillian Kolbe and Franciszek Gajowniczek Taught Me About Being Saved

I have strong devotion to St. Maximillian Kolbe.  


I first heard of him in middle school, when my parents became Third Order Franciscans with the Franciscans of the Immaculate.  The friars here use media and radio to evangelize, imitating the way of St. Maximillian Kolbe.  I found the life story of St. Max (may I call him that?) absolutely fascinating.  I even named one of my sons after him.  He just has a way of being in my life, even in his death.  

Monday, April 2, 2018

Declan Turns Four!

My sweetheart of a boy turned FOUR today!  The kids were home from elementary school due to a professional day, so I took a vacation day to stay home with them.  It worked out well that it also happened to be Declan's birthday.  When he woke up, I asked him how he felt and he said he "felt very four".  Dandy!


Easter Wrap Rap

Our Good Friday breakfast tradition,
An egg in sweet  bread...what was missin'?
Oh yes, any meat from the kitchen.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Easter Prep

What a busy week!  We had the last of the basketball games in the house and are now the proud parents of two Round Robin champions:

Andrew's 7th & 8th Grade Team

Eamon's 4th-6th Grade Team

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.

1)

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!

1)

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:

1)

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


Yes, AGAIN.

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 :)