Friday, October 11, 2019

7QT: Happy Birthday, Jesus Take the Wheel, and New Phone, Who Dis?

It's Friday!!!  What a long, rainy, windy, chilly week in New England.  We're seriously lacking in Vitamin D around here, but I'm gonna keep it sunny with these quick takes...


It's Phil's Birthday!  Woohoo, he's the third birthday in two weeks, but we can't let the man of the house go unnoticed.  Since his birthday falls on the Friday of a long weekend, we will be celebrating for days!  It's his last year of happiness since he'll turn 40 next year ;)  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Andrew Turns 15 (and the Girls' Heads!)

On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, our Andrew turned 15!  I will always regret not naming him Andrew Francis, but I didn't even realize what feast day it was when he was born, and my Dad's brother (a really great, holy man) had passed away during my pregnancy so we wanted to name him after him.  I started guilting Andrew at a really young age that he had to choose Francis as his Confirmation name, and this is the big Confirmation year, so we shall see if all the Catholic guilt/Mother's nagging will pay off.  Hey, it worked for St. Monica ;)

Since his birthday was on a Friday, and he had soccer practice until 5pm, he just wanted an easy dinner of pizza and Phil's homemade cookies and ice cream, which meant I had the day off from cooking.  Thanks, current favorite child ;)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Car Prayers: Our Morning Routine

Most mornings, I take the elementary/middle school kids to their school and then continue on to work.  For years and years, we had a morning prayer routine in the car.  We would say the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Angel of God, and St. Michael prayers, with each kid leading one of the prayers so that everyone got a turn.  Then we would go around and say what we wanted to pray for, and what we were thankful for, and finally blow a kiss to Jesus and a kiss to Mary and bless ourselves for the day.  

A few years ago, our pastor encouraged us to pray a rosary daily in the months of Mary, and so we started listening to the rosary (this specific one) to start our day off on the right foot.  The rosary trumped our morning prayer routine, and became the new norm, and the kids were pretty reverent and respectful while it was on.  

Friday, October 4, 2019

7QT: Meeting Famous People (Matthew Slater) and Other Happenings from the Week


Well the most exciting thing that happened to me this week was that I got to meet Matthew Slater from the Patriots!  

That was the first photo I saw, and I nearly killed Phil, thinking it was the only one he took!  But it wasn't.  He also took many of me looking completely crazy and starstruck.  Maybe one day I'll be cool.

He came to talk at a Catholic School Fundraising event, and I snuck up to his table between the salad course and the main entree to ask him to autograph the Patriot Yearbook I had brought with me.  He was soooooo nice about it all, and he is my new favorite Patriot.  Sorry Edelman!

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Third Trimester of Parenting

A couple of weekends ago, we went apple picking as a family, except we weren’t all there.  My two oldest boys had to finish up some schoolwork before they headed to their grocery store jobs, and so it was just a party of seven for picking.  Later that week, we celebrated a child’s birthday, and again, the teenage boys were noticeably absent.  The eldest was volunteering at a pro-life event for service hours, and the second son was at a soccer game.  This feeling of having them home, but on the verge of leaving home, reminds me of the third trimester of pregnancy.

That first trimester of pregnancy is always a blur for me.  The surprise/shock/elation of finding out a new baby is on the way and all of the hopes and worries that come with that, combined with morning sickness and extreme exhaustion, make me grateful just to survive until week 12.  It’s the same with parenting newborns.  I love my babies, but sleep deprivation is torture, and having to get up and function at work after being up all night breastfeeding is not for the weak.  I always look back on the first couple of months, like, how did we get through that?  The next few years of raising toddlers can be equally demanding on parents, many needs with little independence.  Although it can be so much fun, nobody can deny it’s trying and tiring sometimes. 

But then!  Then comes the second trimester, the most glorious of all!  Both in pregnancy and in raising children, that middle stretch is a wonderful relief from the physical demands of the weeks/years before.  The kids are more independent, they are all school age with more reasonable demands, and life feels a little more comfortable.  Everybody is sleeping better, feeding themselves, and enjoying time spent together.  There is excitement about the future and room to just breathe and enjoy.

Then comes that uncomfortable third trimester.  I am so empathetic to pregnant mamas in the final stage, reminding them that a pregnancy has to get uncomfortable enough so that they can mentally feel prepared ready to do anything to get the baby out.  If there was no discomfort at the end of a pregnancy, a mother would never be willing to go through the pains of labor.  By the ninth month, I’m always like “I don’t care how much it hurts, I want this baby out now!”  Not sleeping, heartburn, waddling, frequent bathroom trips, multiple doctor appointments, back aches, contractions, oh boy, it’s not pretty.  But it is necessary. It’s the body’s way of getting ready to let go.

The teenage years are the third trimester of parenting.  They can stretch us to grow in many ways, and are preparing us to learn to let go.  Though they still live here, as evidenced by their dirty laundry and our grocery bills, they often have one foot out the door.  While I am not ready to drop them off at college anytime soon, my heart is growing more accustomed to them being outside of my home.  DO I miss the days when we were all together all of the time?  Yes.  But do I begrudge them their time to experience life on their own?  Nope.  I have to go through these years with them, aching, growing, preparing to let them go little by little.  Have I taught them well and loved them enough to watch them take their first steps in the real world?  Probably not yet, but hopefully both they and I will feel ready when it’s time to face the big day.  For now, we’ve still got a few more years in this last trimester, thank God.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Another Teenager in the House!!! (Eamon Turns 13)

Our third kiddo turned 13!  Guess what he got for his teenage birthday?  BRACES!  I know, so mean, right?  Somehow *somebody* scheduled the braces appointment without remembering that it was Eamon's birthday.  That *somebody* claims he/she scheduled it that day because I had a physical that morning and knew I would be heading into work late anyway, so why not add on another appointment.  I can see the reasoning, and all in all, it worked out great because Eamon and I took the day off work/school which was nice.  Plus, that *somebody* is really handsome, lucky for him (and me).

The orthodontist's office is the most wonderful (he is seeing a different orthodontist than our two older sons did) and made a big deal of his birthday, handing him an electronic toothbrush and a pint of ice cream as he left.  We drove home, stopping to get some lunch and do a few errands, I let him play video games for hours, and then some family members came over for dinner.  Eamon chose "football food and ice cream sundaes".  So I made taco salad, pigs in blankets, strombolis (one with ham and cheese, and one with pepperoni and cheese) and soft pretzels with a cheese sauce.  Yum!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Movie Review Notes: Downton Abbey

I'm a big Downton Abbey fan...not huge enough where I could remember all of the character's names and storylines going into this movie, but big enough where everything came back to me as the movie played out.

It was like seeing old college friends and wondering why you didn't stay in closer touch for all these years, they're just so great!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Apple Picking 2019

We only had an hour and a half to spare on Sunday, in between Mass, Religious Ed, and a soccer game, so we headed to a close apple orchard with the youngest five kiddos.

Toddlers make everything fun and new.

Somebody please remind me to dress them better when we go apple picking.  That would have been a cute color-coordinated photo.  Oh well, can't teach an old mom new tricks, I suppose.

We were there early so we practically had the place to ourselves.  The place was small, but the trees were full of apples and it was clean! Another local orchard always smells like hard cider from all the rotting apples on the ground.


It was a nice little Sunday Funday detour on the last official day of Summer 2019.  It was 75 degrees, so we honestly could have gone to the beach, but this yielded more fruit.  Hehe.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Notes From the Week


My mom and I are going to see the new Downton Abbey movie tonight!  I am so excited!  I'll give a little review next week...hopefully....if I make it through this weekend.


Saturday just might kill us y'all.  We have Maggie's soccer game at 8:15 and Xander's piano lesson at 8:30.  Then JP has to get dropped off at the high school at 9:30 for his soccer game, and straight to Declan's soccer game at 10.  Andrew needs to be brought to the high school for his game at 11, JP needs to get picked up at noon, Andrew needs to get picked up at 1:30, and JP has to be dropped off to work at 1 and picked up at 6.  Phil and I also have a charity event to attend from 5-8 that evening.  We have to call in reinforcements (grandparents and Haley) to help us get everyone everywhere.  I'm glad Phil and I have the event that night so we can actually see each other on Saturday after passing each other on the road all day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ode to My 40 Year Old Body

Not bad today, I say to my reflection in the mirror,
Grateful for the dust and smudges that don’t make it much clearer.

I remind myself that the belly which grieves me when dressing,
 Has housed and nourished my most wonderful blessings.

The wrinkles and lines near my mouth and eyes,
 Could tell stories of laughter and tears, life’s lows and highs.

Though I often wish they were a bit more thin,
Those thighs are crazy strong from hours in the gym.

My children marvel at my large biceps,
Though they’re less from weights lifted as babies schlepped.

The pants that were too tight today, the ones that raised my voice?
I can’t blame you body, you are just the product of a bad choice.

But then again, would I call a nice weekend “bad”?
Good memories were made, so much fun was had.

Suddenly the physical flaws become badges of honor,
This body has lived a good life and I’m not yet a goner!

A strong foundation covered in some soft layers,
From babies and for babies who need retreat from naysayers.

Scars and creases that give character to an otherwise boring existence,
Are things to cherish, not try to extinguish.

When I sat down to write this Ode to my Body,
I knew not how much gratitude I Owed to my Body.

So keep on keeping on, this body o’ mine.
I literally wouldn’t be me without you and you’re doing just fine.

Friday, September 13, 2019

TGIF with GIFs

I *think* we're settled into our school routines.  Some notes for memory's sake (because Lord knows I'm losing it fast!)...


We spend less on groceries during the school year because the elementary school kids get free breakfast and lunch at school.  They complain about it, but there's enough variety each day that I know they'll eat something, even if it is just a "meat and cheese sandwich" everyday (that would be Declan).  Every night, we pack two snacks in the lunchboxes and call it done.  Every morning, they whine and complain as they watch their high school siblings eat breakfast at home ("They're eating allllll the good cereal!") and make a real lunch to take ("It's so unfair!") so that's been fun.


I haaaaaate that the chunk of time I have with my little guys is also their worst acting time of the day.  I have them from after school until bedtime, which is roughly from 4-7pm, though we've been putting them to bed at 6:45 because they're so exhausted.  I know their crankiness can be cured with some quality time and food in their bellies, but I am busy making said food and employ the older kids to take them outside to play, or pull out a game during this time.  Then it's dinner, cleanup, bath and bedtime and I am left feeling like I barely saw them.  Tis the working parent's life, but it's still hard on them and me.

Monday, September 9, 2019

First Comes Marriage

I found this photo from our trip to Story Land in New Hampshire this summer.  Alexander was very persistent in asking me if he could take a picture using my "real camera" which is expensive and normally a no-no for the kids to touch.  But, I finally agreed, and showed him what to do, and he snapped this photo of Phil and I.  It's blurry, but I love it sooooo much because of that little boy sitting and smiling at his Mom and Dad.  He just looks so happy to see us together.

It was a good reminder for me that if Phil and I are working on our marriage, trying to make each other happy, serving one another, and keeping each other on the path to ultimately makes our kids happy.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Seven Students in School (It's Surreal!!)

School started for Brendan this week.  Brendan is our new three year old, and also "the baby" of our big, crazy, loud family.  He has been so very excited to start school like his siblings, and besides a few potty accidents on the first day, seems to be thriving!  Gammy gave him a "Baby Shark" backpack for his birthday, and we had a shark lunch box, so he's in oceanic heaven.

I loooooove that I have five kids at the Catholic P-8 school, and two at our Catholic high school, where both Phil and I work.  We are so lucky to have these schools available for our kids and I'm forever grateful.

I am also shocked that ALL of my kids are in school.


Nobody is away at college, nobody is at daycare, nobody is in utero (that I know of!).

(It's only taken us 16 years to get here.)

From L-R: JP is a Junior, Eamon is in 7th, Xander is in 3rd, Brendan's in P3, Declan is in Kindergarten, Maggie's in 6th, and Andrew is a Freshman.  Five kids in one school, two kids in another - all the same colors!

Friday, August 30, 2019

7 Random Friday Thoughts

Linking up with Kelly with some Quick Takes...

My new Kindergartner loves using the work "random" whenever possible.  We were at the playground last weekend and he kept hanging around me, so I told him to go play, and he said "I don't want to go play with random people!"  And the introvert in me totally gets it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thoughts on Being An Older Mom (After Years of Being a Young One!)

My my, how perspectives change with age.

I remember dropping off my first born to preschool when he was the ripe old age of 3 and I was only 27.  I distinctly recall seeing a mom in active wear with her 3 year old son that looked much older than me.  We later became friends, and I learned she was *gulp* in her 40s! 

A year later, I was still one of the younger moms dropping off my second child to preschool.  Two years later, I said goodbye to child three, and a year after that, child number four began.  There I was, 30 years old with four young kids, all in school.  

Friday, August 23, 2019

Story Land 2019: Ghost Cars, Scared Pandas, and DISCOUNTED TICKETS!

On Brendan's last day of being a two year old, we took the "littles" to Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire.  You're free until you're three at Story Land so we made the cutoff by the skin of our teeth.  First stop was a photo with the clown (I have one of these from each year we visit).

Next stop was the Antique Cars.  This line is always the longest and so we wanted to get in right when the park opened.  Funny story, I had just sunscreened and bugsprayed everyone when we got out of the car (we travelled from MA where EEE is making history this summer, unfortunately) and while we were in line, a little girl in front of us exclaimed "Something smells!" and her mom quickly shushed her.  I laughed and said "Oh it's us!  We smell like lemons from the bug spray!"  and we all chuckled at the little girl's lack of filter.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Conway, New Hampshire and My Baby is Three!

At the end of the spring, we decided to plan ahead for a little summer family getaway to New Hampshire.  We wanted to take the little three boys to Story Land (next post!) and we work with a friend who has a rental house in Conway.  Easy peasy!  Except!  Trying to squeeze in a time between summer camps, working, an internship, a math class, a basketball league, swim lessons, you get it!  We settled on a nice four nights in the middle of August, and then had to cut it short for Freshman Orientation.  Ugh.  Oh well, three nights was actually wonderful.  

How blessed am I.

Friday, August 16, 2019

7 Tips for Back to School


Summer is allllllmooooost over and I am trying to stretch it out as much as I stretched out the almost back there. ;) The busyness of the school year is always what slams into me the week before school starts, with supply drop offs, student orientation, parent back-to-school nights, soccer tryouts, and deadlines for that summer work they much procrastinated over.  Once we get back into the swing of things, I have to admit that I prefer the newness of the school year, crisp weather, and routines over the humid, lazy days of summer where kids remind me how bored and hungry they are all the time.  Oh, just mine?  The first thing we like to do to get our kids back in the school groove is to start whipping their bodies into shape.  With tryouts and practices coming next week, we strongly urge them to go for runs now so that they are  not the kid puking on the sideline on the first day of practice (true story).  We also bring their sleep schedules back into school zone...earlier bedtimes and wake up times for all to start getting ready for that 6:45 am departure time.  Ugh.  That sounds really early.  Better head off to bed now ;)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Alexander the Great is Eight!

Xander has told me everyday this month exactly how many days until his birthday, and it fiiiiiiinally came!  He's EIGHT!

When we were discussing plans for his birthday, he started off by saying, "Well I definitely want to serve daily Mass, because it's my birthday, duh.  Then I'll go to the last day of camp for a little while, and then you can pick me up right after lunch and we can do something special."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lo's and Hi's at the End of July

Lo:  JP is in the middle of a Cyber Security program at the local college and is supposed to be completing an internship this summer.  The problem is that he and a couple of other students have yet to be placed for the internship.  The program is brand new this year, so I can understand a few bumps in the road, but it is very annoying that he did not get a real summer job thinking he would have an internship and now he is just doing neither.  He is completing the college work, and doing his summer work for his AP courses next year, so he is keeping busy, but that's not making him any money.

Hi: JP gets to take his driving test at the end of August and since we only own a minivan and a huge van, we decided to get a small car that he can use to practice on and then drive around once he has his license.  To be clear, this is not HIS car, but a family car that he can use.  It's a 2006 Honda Accord with only 41,000 miles!  I love driving it around and we've nicknamed it the Holy Roller due to the rosary, holy water, statue of Mary and visor clip proclaiming that we are Catholic and to call a priest in case of an accident (all gifts from my mom).  A car doesn't get much holier than that - oh wait, we still need to get it blessed!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer Travels: Hershey Park, A Wedding in Maryland, and Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Well helloooooo!  It's been awhile!  The summer has been quite packed with camps and sports leagues and work and potty training and driving lessons.  Phew!  I started the summer out by scratching my cornea (ouch, that hurt!) and then getting a tooth pulled (no pain there!) to prepare for a dental implant ($$$$$$).  But then we started our summer travelling, so I thought I'd get these memories written down while they're sorta fresh in my toothless head.  

We had to drive down to Maryland because Phil's sister got married!!!  So we packed up the kids and dog at 4 am one morning and drove to Hershey Park.  It was a sunny day (88 degrees) and the kids were a bit tired/hungover on Dramamine (car sickness runs in the family - even the dog!) but it was still a great day!  I took the majority of the kids on the tram ride into the park while Phil and Declan dropped off the dog at the Barking Lot.  How cute is that?

We met inside and got the tickets, then had to measure the littles to see what they could ride.  We had a delicious Hershey bar:

A freshly made Reese's:

And the cutest and thirstiest Kiss ever:

The kids know that posing and smiling nicely for photos is my love language, so I therefore  love everyone except Brendan ;)  JK B, you know you're one of the top three right now.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

All Grown Up and Ready for High School

I'm sure high school and college graduations are a huge deal as a parent, but since we haven't experienced those yet, there's something really special about 8th grade graduations.

{Stylin' in these pants, shoes and bow tie.  Navy pants and bow ties were the popular choice this year!}

The kids start elementary school as babies, start middle school as awkward tweens, and end up looking like young men and women.  What a crazy fast transformation has happened in the past three years.  He's taller than me now!

We had the Baccalaureate Mass on Saturday night, and when I walked out, I saw this.  I love that he's not too cool to pick up his baby brother in public ;)

Friday, May 31, 2019

7QT The End of May...Don't Let June Hit Ya on the Way Out

It's been a are y'all?  

Let's sum up the last two weeks of May, which has been CRAZY busy, as usual.  It seems like a dark cloud was hanging over my head this month (car accident, court date, illness, teeth issues) and I haven't felt like recapping here.  It's not you, it's May.  But let's focus on the mostly good, mostly important things that have been going on at Casa Martin...


Mother's Day was a rainy, yucky day so I didn't get my annual outdoor photo of the kids.  But!  It was the first Mother's Day that they all chipped in and bought me an actual present.  They got me my favorite perfume since I had run out.  We all went out to breakfast and later I shopped at Marshall's all by myself, it was lovely.  


Phil and I were able to sneak away to Boston for a 24 hour anniversary getaway. On the days leading up to it, Phil was sounding very stuffy and I kept asking him if he was getting sick.  I'm a complete germaphobe and I didn't want to risk catching anything from him.  Not wanting to postpone the planned getaway, he kept saying he felt fine, that it was just allergies.  So we went to Boston and had a great time.  He finally got sick the next day.  Cough, cold, feeling lousy.  Instead of being sympathetic, I was just upset that he had exposed me to his germs.  (This is why I could never work in the medical field!)  Wouldn't you know it, I came down with the same thing on Tuesday.  I hate being sick!!  It means I can't workout and all I want to do is sleep.  What a waste of what could be productive days.  OK, I'm over it now.  Germs happen.  I can't get mad.  Do you hear that, future Colleen?  Let's focus on the happy times:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Seventeen Years of an Ordinary, Lovely Life

This morning, like every morning, he rises and starts getting the little kids ready for the day.  He picks out their clothes, helps them get dressed, makes their lunches, finds their shoes and then starts to work on himself.  I get myself ready, prepare our lunches to take to work, and gather the elementary school kids in my car.  He grabs the baby and the highschooler, drops off the baby and stops on the way to buy us coffee because we keep forgetting to add it to the grocery list.

He brings my coffee to my office, then meets me in the chapel for morning Mass.  He holds my hand during the homily and lets me go in front of him to receive the Eucharist.  He opens any door that gets in my way, and walks by my office during the day with a smile that still makes me weak in the knees.  We eat lunch together with our coworkers as we go over the schedule of the day.

He works security after school to provide a little extra for our family as I go pick up the kids.  We meet back at home and cook dinner before we take turns working out.  He needs no direction to take care of the kids no matter what time I'm away from the house.  We ebb and flow to the rhythm of family life, and as busy and difficult as it can be sometimes, it's never that bad with him as my partner.

He spends his evening helping the teens with their technology issues, changes the baby's diaper, works on reading skills with the preschooler, and reminds the rest to pick up after themselves because their mother is not their maid.

He tells me he'll bring the littles up to bed so I can work on the to-do list.  He comes back down and washes the dishes.  Later on, we walk the dog together and talk about all the details of the day that we don't want the other to have missed.  We get ready for bed and he brings me some water and vitamins.  He asks me what I want to watch as I predictably start to fall asleep and we say Good night, I love you.  He makes sure the kids are all in bed, takes the dog out one more time, checks that the doors are locked, and then he falls asleep while rubbing my back.

It's just a ordinary day in my life with an extraordinary man I thank God for everyday...but most especially on our anniversary. 

Happy 17 years, Phil, you're still the one. 

"You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person that I have ever known - and even that is an understatement."

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald