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

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The First Holy Communion of the Fifth Child

Our handsome and wild Alexander Blaise made his First Holy Communion!



It was such a special day that he needed both hair gel (the barber told me how to buy it cheap and it smells very manly!) and hair spray.  Declan insisted hair spray was just for ladies, but Xander informed him he didn't know anything about hair yet since he's only five.  Obviously.

Friday, May 3, 2019

7 Thankful Quick Takes

It's Friday and I've had a crazy two weeks but I'm so Thankful!!  Here's why...

1)

I appealed my speeding ticket from last month and I won!  The magistrate and the police officer were so nice, and took one look at my "pristine driving record" and where I was ticketed (going over a bridge between two towns) and just removed it from my record.  The officer said 80% of the appeals he sees are from people receiving tickets in that same spot.  I was so nervous to go to the courthouse, and I totally had envisioned a real court room tv scenario where I might have to use my feminine wiles, but it was nothing like that. 


 Glad I had the courage to go and keep my clean driving record!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Spring Break 2019: Cracker Barrel, Coco Key, Chick-fil-A, Campfire, and Cousins!

This year's Spring Break fell during Holy Week which is always a bumdiddlybummer.  I mean how are we supposed to be on vacation mode and Holy Week mode simultaneously?  We decided to do some fun things in the beginning of the week and then become a little more somber for the Triduum. 

First up!  Breakfast at Cracker Barrel!  We always remind the kids, on our rare restaurant meals, to order water, order from the kids meal if they're under the age limit, and only order what they can actually finish.  Sometimes those eyes are bigger than their stomachs!  Even with all our restaurant rules, the bill is still huge...so you can imagine our surprise when the waitress told us at the end of our meal that someone had paid for us!!!  Of course, I couldn't help but tear up with gratitude and then we let the kids each pick a few treats from the gift shop.  God is good! 

JP's face :)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Happy Easter from the Color Coordinated Martins

Happy Easter SEASON everybody!  I'm so thankful it's not just a day because life has been go-go-go lately and I feel like Easter didn't get as much attention as it deserved.  We went with a blue and yellow and gray color scheme this year, mostly because the elementary school boys wear gray pants with their uniform and I didn't have to buy any!


I look about 5 months pregnant in these pictures and I'm not...soooo the diet will begin.....eventually!  Ugh, it's tough to turn 40, I feel like I'm gaining weight so easily lately, even with all the exercise I do.  I know abs begin in the kitchen and blah blah blah I love food too much.  OK, enough vanity, back to the big day!


For the first time as a family, we attended the Easter Vigil and survived!  We just *had* to go to the Vigil this year because my brother-in-law became Catholic!  We always said he was the most Catholic non-Catholic we knew (attending Mass religiously, going to Adoration, raising his kids in the faith, sending his kids to Catholic school - he has one in elementary, high school and FUS) but it just took God's timing to get him into the church.  We were so excited!!  My Andrew was especially so, because he's been telling us for years that he wanted Uncle Adam to be his Confirmation sponsor, but couldn't ask him since he wasn't Catholic.  Now he can (already did, actually!) and his Confirmation is next year.  See, God's timing was perfect as usual!


Look at those smiles on my sister and her newly Catholic husband.  The Vigil started at 7:30 pm and ended at 9:30 pm, so we went home and put the kids to bed and all slept in a little the next morning.  By slept in, I mean 7 am instead of 6 am, so yeah, not much!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A List of Lessons from A Mom of Seven

If I was a beautiful young mom, stopping by this blog to gather some wisdom/warnings/stories from a tired seasoned older mom, what would I want to know?  
What could I tell you about having a big family that may or may not someday be in your future?  
Let me gather my thoughts...


Momma said they'd be days like this, they'd be days like this, momma said.

Don't sweat the small stuff, keep your eyes on the prize.  
Your toddler won't eat veggies today?  Give him extra fruit and try again tomorrow.  I once heard a nutritionist say that you should view healthy eating in week-long increments.  So, over the course of a week, did I get enough protein, veggies, fruits, dairy, whole grains, etc.  
Your stubborn three year old won't poop in the potty?  She will one day.  Until then, just give lots of chances, and I've been known to use a suppository once in their life to get things moving.  The next time, I just mention the "medicine" and they don't want it, and everything moves better on it's own :)  
Your teen gets a bad grade on a quiz?  Tell your inner geek to relax.  It's one tiny quiz in the grand scheme of things.  
Your middle schooler is fighting with her friends?  Time heals all wounds.  She'll be ok, learn from it, grow from it, and so will you.  

Every stage has a season, and like a season, this too shall pass.

We swear by good sleep routines.  Kids go to bed early, wake early, nap early.  Kids who sleep well are well-behaved, smarter and better looking (just kidding about that last part!)

When a child is crying...
Hug them
Listen to them
Feed them
Make them do something active
Distract them
Go outside for some Vitamin D
Put them to bed

Learn your kid's love language and personality type/temperment.  They may all be your kids, but they are all so different!

Having only little ones is soooooo hard.  It's draining and you're on duty every minute that they are awake.  They are loud and whiny and noisy (did I already say that?) but so much fun!  What would we do without them?  Boring.  Try to plan nap times and me time so you don't get a bit blue by the fact that EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMETHING FROM YOU ALL THE TIME.  Ahem.

It gets easier.
(It does, I promise!)

Train them young.  If you want fully-functioning adult children someday, then start now.  Chores should be expected in family life, if they've always done them, they won't think it's strange.  Having big kids (like elementary school aged kids) is super helpful to a mom with littles.  But!  Don't rely on them too much - they are not the parents and deserve a childhood too.  We basically expect our big ones to help out with small household chores and occasionally babysit when they get old enough.  Mostly they are just great for playing with each other, a skill I lack.  

Keep the house tidy.  I know they say dishes can wait, blah blah, but everyone's happier in a tidy clean house.

When Teenagers are Moody:
(See above list for crying children.)

Don't feel like you have to make grand plans to get individual time with each child.  Some of our best talks happen in the car, or grocery shopping, or taking the dog for a walk.  Treats and vacations are wonderful, but kids need our love and attention more.  That being said, making a favorite meal or buying a favorite snack for a certain someone goes a long way.  You have to buy food and cook anyway, but that extra thoughtful step can really brighten someone's day.

Let little kids be little.  Keep their innocence for as long as you can, there will plenty of years for them to do big kid activities, but they will never be this age again.  

Let big kids be big.  Don't hold them back because you're not ready to let go a bit.  Give them some freedom and let them discover how much they still need you :)

Raise your family with faith and humor.  Be joyful in your vocation and your kids will be happy in theirs.

Remember to celebrate every milestone as if it's the first child.  Sometimes you gotta fake it until you make it, but when the 6th kid graduates 8th grade, it's just as exciting for him as when the first kid graduated.  It's old hat to you, but look at it with fresh eyes from their perspective.

Don't get a pet "for the kids".  Get a pet if YOU want a pet.  Learned this one the hard way :)

Praise them often.  Instill confidence and courage.  Celebrate not only their accomplishments, but also their work ethic to get there.  Telling a kid they worked really hard is a better life lesson than telling them they are so smart.  Make sure they know what's important in life - manners, kindness, faith, love, family - getting into Heaven is the goal, not getting into college.  

Raise kids to be the kind of adults you want to hang out with.

Know that the longer I mother my children, the more I realize what I don't know.  I was honestly the perfect mom before I had children, ha!  I really shouldn't be giving advice at all!  So trust your gut and know that God created YOU to be the parent of YOUR kids and He doesn't make mistakes.  You got this :)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Weeknight Meals for Busy Families

Every day when my kids get home from school they ask "What's for dinner?" and every day I want to be like:


Mwahahaha.

But, I don't because kids want to eat all the time (who knew? every mother every where, that's who.) and it's my job to feed them.  I know you're all in the same boat, as it's probably my number one request I get from you guys - to list out some meal ideas that we use to feed a gaggle of kids fast on nights when we are all coming home from work/school and running back out to meetings/church/sports events.  I'll admit, it's a little embarrassing to write out some of these simple meals, but I'm nothing if not honest, so I'll eat the humble pie and let you in on our easy peasy tried and true weeknight meals.

Some rules to start:

1) We always keep fruit and veggies in the house to act as sides to these meals.  Think apple slices, baby carrots, cucumbers, frozen corn, frozen peas, grapes, lettuce, bananas, you get it.

2)  We also keep starchy sides on hand.  I'm talking potatoes, rice, pasta, frozen french fries, and chips (I know, humble city over here!)

3) We do NOT serve milk with dinner.  We have found that some of our kids would fill up on milk and not eat the main course.  So they get water with dinner and a cup of milk later in the evening before bed.

4) We serve what we serve and that's it.  If they do not want to eat it, they don't have to (they'll always eat something on their plate) but they don't get anything else to eat.  There are some items that toddlers just have a hard time eating, and I will make them a turkey hot dog or chicken nuggets instead, but not as a reward for not eating the first meal.  They get that as their first meal.


5) We eat a lot of protein (six growing boys!) and we do not have any food allergies, thank you Baby Jesus, so please don't  be offended by our gluten-dairy-animal-egg-filled choices.  I'm just a basic home cooking mom.

Without further ado, here's our weeknight meal rotations:

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Declan Kolbe is Five

We awoke yesterday morning to Declan running into our bedroom proclaiming "I'm five years old now!"  We hugged him and asked him if he felt bigger and he said "No, yesterday i couldn't reach the spot on the wall, and today I still can't reach it."  Well, can't argue with that logic!  He also reminded me that I forgot to put him in a box last night.  Before you call child services, I always threaten to put my kids into a box so that they can't grow up.  Will they have to go to therapy about it one day?  Probably.  Just add it to the list of ways mom loved us too much ;)

We all got ready for work/school and headed out the door to Dunkin Donuts, because Lenten fasts don't apply on family birthdays, duh.  All of the other kids asked for a double chocolate donut (well, Brendan ordered a "hmmmmmm, hmmmmmm, bubble chocolate!", same dif) and Declan asked for "you know that donut with the thing on top of the hole that I saw that time we got the sausage and egg sandwich thingy on a bagel and you said I couldn't get the donut that I wanted?"  Huh??  I decided to take Declan in with me so he could pick.  When we got to the counter, I told the girl working that it was his birthday, and she told all of the other workers and they all said happy birthday which made my shy little man very quiet.  Somebody yelled out that he should get a free donut, and they asked him which one he wanted.  He hemmed and hawed while I ordered the other kid's donuts and some munchkins for his preschool class, and decided on this one:

Of course.

I dropped them all off at school and he happily ran in with his munchkins.  He ended up bringing home the uneaten munchkins, and so generously shared them with all of us for an afternoon snack.  Declan has been telling us for weeks that he wanted Wendy's for dinner on his birthday, followed by a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ice cream.  When I picked up Wendy's for a quick dinner last week, he got very sad and said "Does this mean I can't have Wendy's on my birthday?"  What a sweetheart!  He wanted to eat IN Wendy's so we all (minus JP who was studying for a Chemistry test) went out to celebrate in style:

Monday, April 1, 2019

Unplanned, The Movie That Can Not Be Unseen (a review)

On Saturday, Phil and I and our friend, who's a priest, all went to see the movie Unplanned.  This movie is based on the book by Abby Johnson with the same title.  


I already knew Abby Johnson's story, as I think most pro-lifers do.  Abby is sort of a hero of our times in the pro-life movement.  She was the Clinic Director of Planned Parenthood down in Texas, and she switched sides after seeing an ultrasound-guided abortion.  How did a little girl, raised in a pro-life family, become not only pro-choice, but eventually Planned Parenthood's Employee of the Year?

Simply put, she believed the lies.

Friday, March 29, 2019

7QT: Speeding Tickets, Books for Kids, and the YMCA

Happy LAST FRIDAY IN MARCH (Whaaaaaat??)  

1)


I mentioned earlier that I got a speeding ticket.  My first one.  I am appealing it based on my perfect driving record and going to beg for mercy!  I'm nervous to do it though, I do not like confrontation.  Give me your tips, you speed demons!

2)

We joined the YMCA!  Previously, both Maggie and Xander were members to get half-off swim lessons and access to open swim times. I was paying $26 per month for their memberships, which I decided was crazy.  I was talking to a coworker about it, who happened to be a past YMCA employee, and she told me to apply for financial aid.  So I did, and it turns out that a family of nine living off of two small Catholic school salaries totally qualifies!  Now we are getting a family membership (me and the kids, Phil is staying at Planet Fitness) for $27 per month, only $1 more per month than we were spending on just two kids.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

He Said, She Said

I always try to smooch Brendan's cheeks, and he will say "Ahhh no klissing me!" with a big smile on his face.  Well, how can I not kliss you when you mispronounce it like that?


We went to JP's Winter Track banquet, and when he received his award, the head coach described him as being the fastest 300m runner.  Afterwords, I congratulated him, and said I didn't know he was the best 300m runner on the team.  He said "I'm not, but the fastest kid wasn't at the banquet, so I was the fastest there!"

On Monday, the kids asked what was for dinner when I picked them up from school (not unlike every day) and I said tacos.  Xander asked "Why are we having tacos on the Feast of the Annunciation??" and I said "Because the Angel tacoed to Mary and told her she was pregnant with Jesus, and then Mary said Queso?"  Only Maggie laughed.


Phil wanted to take me out for dinner and ice cream to celebrate the feast day so we fed the kids and put the little ones to bed and were getting ready to head out when Maggie asked "Where are you two going?" and I said "To do some errands" and she said "I KNOW THAT MEANS YOU'RE GOING ON A DATE!!"  Busted.


I got a speeding ticket.  I know, ugh.  It was the first one in my life, and Andrew and Eamon were in the car with me.  The cop was on a motorcycle and didn't have a laptop to look up my history and see that I've never gotten a ticket before, so he gave me one and said I could appeal it.  I was upset, and drove away saying "I can't believe he gave me a ticket!  I should have only gotten a warning!  That place is a speed trap!  The speed limit drops from 40 mph to 30 mph once you cross the city line!  I can't believe he gave me a ticket!!"  Andrew just looks at me and goes "Well, there are consequences in life."


I was holding Brendan and we were just playing around, when it was time to hand him off to Phil for bed time.  He reached back out for me and said "Wait!  You need me!".  I love when kids confuse pronouns like that.

I went to a new group exercise class, and this nice older gentleman was helping me get set up with a mat and weights, knowing it was my first time at this class.  He told me to get two sets of weights, 8 pounders and 5 pounders.  I'm actually pretty strong (thanks ice-cream scooping and shotput throwing  and baby holding muscles) so I only used the eights throughout the class.  At the end of the class, he said to me with a smile "You didn't need no stinkin' fives!"


Declan was sick this weekend with a fever, and he was convinced that he got sick because of the dinner I made him on Thursday night.  I honestly couldn't remember what we ate that night, so I asked him and he said "You know...the meat one in a roll...that smells like Dad when he comes home from a run?"  (it was steak subs...and sorry Phil!)

Friday, March 22, 2019

Thoughts on Being Off Instagram for Lent

But Colleen, Lent isn't even halfway over yet!

I know, I know, BUT I did give up Instagram for Lent last year as well, so I think I'm qualified to speak on the subject.

Well, that's never stopped you before.

True.

So anyway, here's seven thoughts on what a social media fast has made me realize (linking up with Kelly!)

1)

Social media allows us to be selfish friends.

It's true, isn't it?  We can get on and post what we're doing and assume everyone wants to know, but then can get back off without checking in on any of our "friends".  Then we can log back on to see how many likes or comments we got because obviously, that matters.  Imagine if you had a friend in your life who only talked about themselves, wanted you to affirm her, and then never asked about what was going on in your life.  Would you like to be around her?  Nope, she would be a selfish person in your mind.  Yet, that's what we all do on social media.  Social media is more about portraying our story and peeking in on other's lives than curating true friendships.  True friendships exist outside social media.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spotlight on Eamon

{Warning - mushy mom post ahead.  I never want to come across as bragging about my kids, and trust me, they all have things I don't want the world to know about them, but every once in a while, I need to record some of their personal achievements.  This blog is called Martin Family Moments, and I want to remember our best moments.  Thanks for understanding!}

Oh my gosh y'all, Eamon is so adorably cute and nice and fun and holy right now.  (If anyone knows how to freeze a 12 year old boy, send instructions STAT!)  This week, Eamon's basketball team won the Boys C Championship.  Boys C is grades 4-6, and Eamon is in grade 6, and a true leader on the team.

Eamon is 2nd from left

I didn't know until this year, that he shoots hoops every morning for half an hour before school (in extended care) to work on his shot.  And he can almost always be found with a basketball in his hand.  He brings it to school, he brings it home from school, he brings it inside to protect it from the elements...just trust me when I say the ball is stuck to his hand. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

St. Patty's Day Half Marathon Recap

Another half-marathon in the books, and boy are my legs tired!  That is it folks, no more long races for me, I'm officially retiring.  But first, let's look back on the weekend...

I made these Irish flag cookies for the kids on Saturday night after our carbo-loaded meal of pasta and meatballs and garlic bread.  As a family, we give up sweets for lent, but we can eat them after the vigil Mass on Saturday through Sunday night.  So we are ready for some yummy desserts each weekend!  These fit the bill.



On Sunday morning, the littles awoke to a couple of gifts from the leprechauns...

Lucky Charms!

Green Milk!
Those silly leprechauns!  And then we taught them that if you're not wearing green on St. Patty's Day, you have to get pinched! 

 

Friday, March 15, 2019

7QT: Happy (Almost) St. Patty's Day!

TGIF and linking up with Kelly...

1)

I can not believe the half-marathon is Sunday!!  I don't want to run it!  I watched this video of the race course, and it made me realize just how long 13.1 miles is!

I'm nervous about it, and deep down I want to finish under 2 hours but I'm also trying to take the pressure off myself by just saying "Let's have fun and just finish whenever!"  Phil is not nervous at all, and we are definitely more prepared in terms of training than ever, but all that training hasn't seemed to increase my speed or lower my weight, both things I wished would have happened before the race.  It's just so much easier to run at ten pounds lighter than what I'm at.  Oh well, I'm in the 40 year old category now, so maybe everyone will be a little slower too :)

2)

Check out my new kicks for the race!



They arrived on Wednesday, and I've been wearing them non-stop to make sure they will be fine for the race.  So far so good.


Monday, March 11, 2019

Taper Week

I said to Phil yesterday that it was Taper Week, and he was like "What does that mean?"  He never knew that was a thing!  And he's run a bunch of races!  But that's ok because I didn't know what cadence was until a couple of weeks ago when my new watch started tracking it for me.  

So for those of you also not in the running know...

In the context of sports, tapering refers to the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition. Tapering is customary in many endurance sports, such as long-distance running and swimming. ... The tapering period frequently lasts as much as a week or more.

and

Cadence is how many steps you take per minute.  Your height, weight, leg and stride length and running ability will determine your optimal cadence. Everyday runners generally fall between 160-170 steps per minute, while elite runners strike the ground around 180 steps per minute or higher—with some getting above 200 at their fastest speeds.

So, we are in Taper Week.  That means we are running about 60% of our mileage this week, taking two full rest days before the half-marathon on Sunday, and trying to hydrate and get a lot of nutrients in.  I've been baking superhero muffins and blending beet smoothies from this cookbook, and planning on eating spaghetti and meatballs on Sat night.  Yum!  

Partial Training Plan

Friday, March 8, 2019

7QT: Things I Want to Record and Remember

A few things I want to remember, because you know, old age steals the memory...


1)

In 40 years of being a practicing Catholic, I never knew that the Church used to have a much stricter Lenten practice in place whereby everyday in Lent (except Sundays) we had to fast by only eating two small snacks and one larger meal, and no meat until the larger meal.  How did I never know this?  Kelly wrote an excellent post about this here and my pastor writes in the bulletin this week:

THIS YEAR, GIVE UP MORE THAN JUST CHOCOLATE
 The hallmarks of Lent are the actions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Many of us would define fasting as “giving something up”: chocolate, wine, beer, or some other (legitimate!) pleasure that we give up for Lent as a sign of our taking personal responsibility for our sins and showing our sorrow for them. At present all Fridays in Lent are kept as days of abstinence on which neither meat nor meat products (e.g. chicken soup) are consumed by those over the age of 14. For those between the ages of 18-59, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast as well as abstinence. On these days, Catholics are enjoined to eat only one full meal and two snacks that together do not equal a meal, with no meat. It should be noted that these are the minimum – we should all try to go further. In the past I’ve heard comments to the effect that fasting doesn’t matter – “just do some more nice deeds for others.” This attitude is simply wrong – yes, we should do more charitable deeds during Lent, but true conversion involves not only increasing the good we do but also confronting the sins of which we are guilty and expressing signs of amendment of life. There is no better way to do this other than fasting. So, how can we go further than the bare minimum of fasting? It might help to look to the past for inspiration. A century ago, the following were the practices of Catholics; this Lent, let’s all try to incorporate some of these into our own practices:

Every day of Lent, except Sunday, was a fast day (two small snacks and one larger meal).
Meat was only eaten at the main meal of the day.
Fridays through Saturday afternoons were times of complete abstinence – no meat at all.

The reason that the Church lightened the expectations on fasting & abstinence was so that Catholics could better adapt fasting to their own needs and state of life. Even if you are unable to follow the full regimen listed above, I encourage you to reflect on whether you can make different elements of it part of your Lenten experience. The more we enter into the spirit of the Lenten fast, the more we shall experience its fruits.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Getting Out of the Habit: Lent is the Time for Change, and Change Takes Time


Lent is always so eye-opening to me about my bad habits.  It has only been ONE DAY and I have reached for my phone to check the 'gram sooooo many times.  Gotta get out of the habit.

As soon as I got home from work and picking up the kids yesterday, I went straight to the pantry to see what candy I had stashed away for a quick pick me up.  Gotta get out of that habit too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Happy Lent

Happy Lent, Colleen?

 Don't you mean Sad Lent?
  
Nope, I'm trying to change my 'tude about lent this year.  I always go into Lent dreading the extra prayer time I promise to make, craving the sacrifices I've chosen to give up, and just wishing it was Easter already.  

But that's not the point of Lent.  We're not supposed to make our lives miserable for forty days.  We are supposed to grow closer to Jesus in these forty days so that on Easter we are so excited to greet our friend when He rises in glory.  


Giving up sweets (which I seem to pick every year) in and of itself is just a diet plan, but offering up a little prayer of thanksgiving for His sacrifice for me while I turn down dessert will only draw me closer to Him.  White knuckling distracted through a family rosary isn't going to help me journey towards a deeper friendship with Christ, but truly trying to clear my head and enter into the prayers as a present to Him will.  Choosing to cook eggs on Friday instead of ordering pizza could be a letdown, but serving them with a smile to my family and giving them my attention through dinner only helps me to grow in my vocation that He has called me to live.  

So it doesn't matter "what" we do for Lent, it matters "why" we're doing it.  I'm choosing sacrifices that on the surface may appear hard and miserable, but if I can keep a joyful and generous and prayerful attitude through it all, I know Jesus and I can become bffs by Easter (don't worry, there's a lot of him to go around!)  And that my friends, makes a Happy Lent.  



(Since one of my lenten sacrifices is to stay off of Instagram, I'm hoping to write more in this little space.  More about nothing, like the good old days of blogging!)

Friday, March 1, 2019

Fine it's March, but I'm Still Feeling That February Love

I'm always surprised by how many people seem to hate February, when I tend to like it, and this year, I would daresay love it.  Everyone's entitled to their opinion, of course, but here's why they are wrong ;) and why I love this month...

1)

Short Month

On the first day of February in Boston, the sun set at 4:58 pm.  On the last day of February, the sun will set at 5:32.  This is the month that I really feeeeeeeeel those extra minutes of daylight after a bleak and dark winter, like a little promise of hope.  Compared to January and March, which seem to be long months for me, February is a little blip of a month that goes by much too fast.  And this year, we've had such dry weather that the winter is pleasurable.  I've been running outside more days than not, which is a rare winter treat!  Treadmills are dreadmills.

2)

Valentine's Day


Who doesn't love love?  Probably the same people who don't love February, ha!  I know that Hallmark and Hersheys make out like bandits on this holiday, but that doesn't bother me.  It's always nice to take a moment and let those you love know how you feel, and we will take any excuse for a date night for any reason!  Valentine's Day, sure!  World Marriage Day, great!  Chinese New Year, why not?  President's Day, yes sir!  (All FEBRUARY holidays, by the by.)  February is the life of the party!

Monday, February 25, 2019

40 Reasons

40 Reasons why I love you on your 40th Birthday

(This is your husband... I hacked your account for this post)


1. I love the way you want to be the center of attention as long as no body is looking at you perform!  Being on stage gives you instant fear but you’re happy to post a video of yourself singing the lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby”.


 2. I love the way you keep our crazy family’s life running and organized!  If it wasn’t for you, our kids would never be signed up for school, sports, physicals, music lessons, driver’s ed, religious ed, etc. They would never go to a friend’s birthday or have a meal plan.  Thank God for shared Google calendars so I know what is going on in our crazy busy life.


3. I love that you are also trying to keep our house clean and organized.  Thanks Kon Mari!

 Image result for kon mari meme tell me again

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Romance Isn't Dead, It Just Looks a Lot Different

On our first Valentine’s Day together, Phil and I danced our first dance on a balcony in Austria, to the song “Amazed” by Lonestar.  

Kinda hard to top that, right?

Yet, on our second Valentine’s Day together, Phil hung a whole bunch of hearts from the ceiling of my bedroom, each with a hand-written reason why he loved me, for me to find upon arrival home from work.  


On our third Valentine's Day together, now being engaged and almost married, we went out for a wonderful date.  You know the kind of dates you can have when you’re young and aren’t worrying about the kids and the babysitter.  It lasted hours, had many different courses of food, and lots of wedding planning conversation.

On our fourth Valentine’s Day, I was 8 months pregnant and Phil cooked me a gourmet dinner at home.  He decorated the table and lit candles and made it as beautiful and special as could be.

Oh we were so in love and wasn’t it obvious?  Anybody seeing Phil’s big romantic gestures could tell how devoted he was to me and just how much he cared.  I always felt like a princess on Valentine’s Day and he was my handsome prince, swooping me off my feet.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Questions I Get Asked Over and Over


Are They All Yours?

This is the most popular one, asked whenever we go out in public all together.  I used to have to bring all the kids everywhere when they were all younger, but now that I can leave a big kid in charge, I can take just a few to run errands and I don't get asked this question.  When we are all together, we laugh when we get asked, and just say "Yup!" and keep moving.  Of course they're all mine if I'm grocery shopping - who in their right mind would pick up extra kids to take to the grocery store?


Are You Going to Try for More (or Another Girl)?

Considering we only *tried* for one (Eamon) and the rest were little happy surprises, I never know how to answer this question.  If you're trying to use NFP for most of your marriage to postpone the next pregnancy...and then you end up with seven kids...I think it proves how very little control we have over this area of our lives.  And thank God for that!  If we had been NFP rockstars since the beginning, we wouldn't have the family we have!  We always wanted a large family, but thought we knew the best spacing, and it turns out we were completely wrong.  I wish I had just leaned into it more instead of white-knuckling through it.  So no, we're not going to try for another baby in the foreseeable future.  But that never means we won't have another baby.  And you get what you get, and you don't get upset in the gender game.  I honestly looooove raising boys, but Maggie will want a sister until she's old and gray.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Kids Go To Bed Early and Other Things That Make Me a Mean Mom

Sometimes I can be a mean mom, which I know because my kids will often tell me how UNFAIR a rule of mine is, and that EVERYBODY IN THEIR CLASS doesn't have to follow said rule.  It obviously phases me a lot.

{Not}

Guess what, children?  My job is to raise you to the best of my ability into healthy, happy, holy adults.  Those mean rules I put into place, and then into practice?  Yeah, that's because I love you.

{Gasp}


I love you enough to say "no" to your unhealthy appetite for junk food, screens, and staying up late.  

I love you enough to say "yes" to timeouts when you're a naughty toddler, loss of dessert when you're a naughty kid, and loss of screen privileges when you're a naughty teenager.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Let Them Be Big: My Hardworking Boys

When I think back over my childhood into becoming a young adult, I think the biggest lesson I learned was to work hard.  My parents didn't necessarily preach this all the time, but they were always working hard and we had a family ice cream shop, so we all had to work hard too.  I was only a 1st grader when I would wipe tables in the shop, fill spoon and napkin containers, wash buckets.  My "pay" was an ice cream cone at the end of my time there.  But I didn't do it for that.  It was just understood, expected, and necessary.  All of my older siblings were there scooping, and me and my little sister would help out however we could.  I *couldn't wait* until I could serve customers, which I was allowed at the age of twelve, and my pay turned from ice cream into cold hard cash.  I loved making my own money, and when I eventually managed the store at 16, would schedule myself in to work six days a week.  Working hard at the shop translated into working hard at school, and in our future careers, and it is really the one thing I wish my kids could experience.

But, since we don't have a family business, we are doing the next best thing, and making sure our kids understand the value of a dollar, learn how to talk to people, and equate hard work with success in life.  How do we do this?  We let them get jobs as soon as possible.


No!  Not that young! :)

Friday, February 1, 2019

Superbowl Prediction

From the book of Daniel, Chapter 8:
"This is what I observed: a he-goat from the west, encroaching over the entire surface of the world though never touching the ground, and between its eyes the goat had one majestic horn. It advanced on the two-horned ram, which I had seen standing in front of the gate, and charged at it in the full force of its fury. I saw it reach the ram; it was enraged with the ram and struck it, breaking both its horns, so that the ram was not strong enough to hold its ground; it threw it to the ground and trampled it underfoot; no one was there to rescue the ram."
Go Patriots!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

People are Nice

I've seen some sweet gestures lately that remind me that most people are nice.  If you're looking for encouragement about the state of our world, read on....

When Andrew was in 2nd grade (6 years ago) he made a valentine for one of the young ladies who worked in his after-school program.  We left that school a couple of years later, and wouldn't you know that the same young lady ended up becoming the preschool teacher at his new school?  Now Andrew is in 8th grade, and this week she sent me this message:

"Mrs. X and I were just talking about how wonderful Andrew is, and I remembered this sweet Valentine from him way back in the day!"



This isn't a tale of Andrew's sweetness (though he sure was!) but rather of somebody thinking a kind thought about one of my children and actually reaching out to tell me.  So many times I think about how wonderful somebody is but don't go the next step to let them know.  Gotta change that!

Monday, January 28, 2019

7QT Friday, I mean Monday

Life has been relatively boring around here lately, hence the lack of writing and gramming.  Not boring as in "nothing to do" but rather boring as in "same old stuff, different day" kinda routine.  But I'll try to pull together 7 quick takes to help me get back in the writing game....and then post them late.  Sorry Kelly!

1)

I filed my taxes this week.  I'm pretty sure this is the earliest I've ever filed. 


I completed our federal, waited for MA state to be released, then did those too.  I filed for JP as well, and charged him 10% of his refund for my services.  Gotta teach life lessons!  I've said it before, but I've used many different tax programs (worked at H&R Block and at CPA firms) and TaxAct is super easy to use and sooooo inexpensive.  JP's taxes were filed for free and I think mine cost about $60 total. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

7QT: March for Life, Run for Life, Patriots for Life

It's a (barely) snowy Friday morning here - we've had such a nice dry winter, I can't complain at all, plus it's Friday and the Patriots are in the playoffs this weekend, so Colleen's a happy girl! 

Why you gotta talk about yourself in the third person, Colleen?

That's a good question, Colleen.  I'll get back to you.

1)

My three oldest babies are marching for life today!!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo - What I Love, What I Like, and What I Can't Get on Board With

In light of the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I thought I would repost this article I wrote a few years back.  I loved reading this book and applied changes to our house immediately.  The new show makes me like the author even more - she is so cute and joyful - and is inspiring me to go through my home again.   I am planning to start the process (though on a much smaller scale!) on our first snow day, yay! My family is so excited ;)  Here is the original post in it's entirety....

~

So if you're like me from last week, you don't know what the KonMari Method is.  You've never heard of this bestselling book that seriously is changing people's lives.


Isn't the author, Marie Kondo so beautiful?  Doesn't her living room look so peaceful and uncluttered behind her?  The tidying method she explains in her book is called the KonMari method, which is a play on her own name.  Get it?

We are beginning the process of seriously trying to sell our house.  We have a realtor coming over at the end of the month, and we have been saying that we need to get the house ready but have lacked the major motivation needed to do any work.  Six kids and sick kids can do that to the best laid plans.  So there I was, in the middle of Lent, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of getting my house ready to sell and keeping it ready to show.  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Book, Cook, Look - January 2019

Here's what I'm reading, eating, and wearing this month...

~ BOOK ~


For Christmas, I received Rachel Balducci's book, Make My Life Simple, and loved it as much as I love the author herself.  Rachel's newest book is part FlyLady, part Marie Kondo, part spiritual director, and 100% real.  She gives good, practical tips on how to simplify your life in all areas, while sharing bits and pieces of her own journey and struggle.  

Rachel doesn't know this, but she helped me with my laundry game years ago, when she blogged about her system.  It's how we've been doing it at the Martin Casa for a long time now, and it actually did make me like laundry a little better.  Not quite as much as Rachel, but she has her own kind of crazy :)  

A new tip that Rachel shared was about self-care being worth our time because it actually saves us time in the future.  She explains how just making time to get her eyebrows waxed reduces all the worry and work put into trying to make them look ok every day.  Once you just get it done, you can move on and focus on the bigger important things in life, but if you keep putting it off, it's actually draining your energy every day.  Makes total sense, and fits in with my Dad's motto of "For all the time you've spent complaining about doing it, you could have already gotten it done!"  Life lesson right there.  

So go ahead and get yourself this little gem of a book, it's a quick read full of lovely advice on the importance of destressing and simplifying our lives as much as possible.  Good work, Rach!

Friday, January 4, 2019

7QT: Blogs, Sex, and Taxes...Oh My!

Happy 2019!! Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes Friday....

1)

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear blog, happy birthday to you!

 I hope to keep blogging through this year, as it will be 11 whole years this month that I've typed our family's memories in this little space.  Each year I make a book from this blog, and hopefully one day my kids will appreciate the yearly "scrapbooks" their mom took the time to create.  Or at least they can pull it out for the therapist to explain exactly how I ruined them ;)