Thursday, February 28, 2013

Theme Thursday: Happy Happy Joy Joy

When I saw that the theme was Happiness and Joy, I realized I have a lot of pictures that would fit the bill.  We are mostly a happy, fun loving family and I am mostly a mom who loves to spoil make her kids happy, and my kids are mostly joyful creatures who are thrilled with practically anything.

But then I remembered the moment when Maggie walked into my hospital room to meet her baby brother for the first time.  

She had been excited for the whole pregnancy that she was going to be a big sister, and was only the teensiest bit disappointed when she heard on the phone that the baby was not a girl.  She got over that in no time flat and loved her little brother from first sight.  

I had the camera ready and took pictures of the older four kids coming in to see Alexander, and I was able to snap this one of Maggie looking at me with pure joy and thanksgiving for the gift we had just given her.  The gift of another sibling.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

{CWA} Volume 2

{Joining Suspicio for another installment of Catholic Woman's Almanac}
::Moments of Gratitude::
All of my sweet birthday comments and emails and texts and cards.  
This girl sure feels loved!
I just realized this weekend that Pope Benedict was leaving so soon.  I mean, I *knew* he was but it didn't register just how fast it was coming.
For Pope Benedict XVI
For pregnant ladies.
For the poor souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.
Ummm, I just spread almond butter on rice cakes for breakfast for Phil and I....does that count as cooking?
Oooooh!  I know!  This weekend I made a Roasted Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash soup and also a pot roast to give us some easy lunches and dinners for the week.  I'll have to post the pot roast recipe soon, it's so easy and delicious and I've finally found a way to make gluten-free and cornstarch-free gravy.  (Just typing that I realize you all now understand the simplicity of my cooking skills)
Gray dress pants, pink tank top, black/white/gray/pink argyle cardigan.
Plans for the weekend.  A date is on the agenda, and basketball games and practices, and maybe a Baptism!
Crazy waiting for my federal tax refund.  The state refund came in, and the IRS said I was supposed to receive the refund on February 13, but I am still waiting...
My Other Self by Clarence Enzler
Employee policies at work.  Fun, right?
::Listening to::
Some Nights by Fun
::Wandering Around the Web::
I am catching up with my friend, Sandra's family as she is catching up on blogging at State of Motherhood.  Don't you love it when old bloggy buddies start writing again?
::Liturgical Living::
::Around the House::
A friend asked to borrow maternity clothes.  In digging out and organizing those bins, I started digging out and organizing the desk and closet around it.  We found tons of hand-me-down costumes for the kids that now live in three hampers at the bottom of the upstairs hallway closet.  It's like we discovered Disney World - they are so happy with these get-ups and have been doing daily parades for our entertainment.  It's just another example of how we always get more than we give.
::Looking Ahead::
We just finished February vacation and now we are counting down to April vacation.  We'll be heading to Maryland to visit with Phil's family!
My birthday buddy made me a birthday card.  (Tigers are my favorite)
I can't believe John-Paul is TEN!

Monday, February 25, 2013

What I Wore... on my birthday!

I'm Wearing:
Skirt: Worthington from JC Penney (60% of my work clothes are Worthington, inexpensive and cute!)
Cardigan: Loft
Tanktop and Tights: Places
Shoes: Kohl's

And it's his birthday too!
John-Paul is wearing:
Coat: Lands End (hand-me-down)
Backpack: L.L. Bean (our absolute favorite backpack store)
Shoes : Merrells (again, the best boy's shoes ever)
Uniform: Catholic School mandatory

Oh, and Phil gave me my last two Alex & Ani bracelets this morning.  Now I have all 5 of my baby's birthstones dangling around my wrist!

Go see the other pretty ladies at Fine Linen and Purple!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Convicted for the Millionth Time

I am so dense and God is so patient.  Apparently I need big Aha! moments to hear God speaking to me.  

That happened at Mass today.  Alexander was actually being quiet for five minutes as we stuffed his mouth full of oyster crackers and I was able to hear the whole second reading:

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters,whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord.

Most people probably tend to focus on the glorified body part of this reading, as I usually do.  But today, the parts that seemed as if they were shouted at me were "Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their "shame".  Their minds are occupied with earthly things."  

You guys, I am the "their".


Tomorrow is my birthday, and while I enjoy feeling loved and having a special day, I really have a hard time with getting older.  I will be 34 years old, but more than that, I will have a 10 year old son.  

I gave birth to John-Paul on my 24th birthday, induced a month early and because my gallbladder needed to be removed.  After 8 months of sickness and terrible pain, the doctors finally figured out the problem.  John-Paul was deemed big enough to be born, and since I couldn't keep any food or water down at the end, the best plan of action was to deliver him early.  

My labor lasted 36 long hours and it wasn't until his head was crowning that I realized he and I would share a birthday.  What a gift!  I was such a young girl to become a mother at 24, but it was all I ever wanted.  

My body bounced back quickly after the labor and surgery (thank God for youth), but it was never the same.  I had a scar from the incision to remove the gallbladder and three small scars where they had inserted the other instruments to do the laparoscopic procedure.  I also had stretch marks and loose skin from the pregnancy.

Phil says my stretch marks are battle wounds that I proudly won when my body held and delivered 5 gorgeous babies, and I know he's right, but my struggle to look "good" started to overwhelm me.  Having four babies in five years didn't help the situation, and while I never developed any sort of eating disorder (through God's graces) I did focus way too much on my belly.  I've never worn a bikini in my life, and I never will, but I wanted to be able to wear pants without the dreaded muffin top.  I get discouraged by the models and actresses who become mommies but still look like girls.

The older I've gotten and matured (I hope) I realized that the importance of exercise for me was more of a mental health benefit than a physical health benefit.  I honestly do workout to be healthy and get rid of stress and anxiety.  But I do not enjoy getting older or seeing more wrinkles in the reflection squinting back at me.  I put too much thought and effort into wanting to be a certain size or fit into my old clothes.  So every once in a while, I use an excuse (like Lent) to drop weight.  This Lent we gave up sweets and started eating less gluten and more veggies.  As I stepped on the scale each morning, I realized the thrill of losing pounds was the real reason I was eating this way.  I wasn't giving glory to God.  I wasn't sacrificing something good to bring me closer to Jesus Christ at all.  I was on a diet disguised as a Lenten sacrifice.

There is nothing wrong with someone (healthfully) dieting to lose weight or someone (honestly) working out to get in shape, but when vanities and pride get the better of me, I need a big Aha! moment to see it.  

The other morning I was in the bathroom about to take a shower and had to force myself not to step on the scale.  But as soon as that shower was done, I couldn't resist the temptation and had to see the numbers.  

Step away from the scale.

I told Phil, if I am truly going to sacrifice sweets and pleasurable food for Lent for the right reasons, then we needed to hide the scale until Easter.  Or maybe forever.  God was already starting to work on my heart, and then the second reading today just confirmed it.  

If only their was a soul-scale where I could see how I measured up in God's eyes and keep my focus on improving that number!  But God doesn't work like that.   He doesn't care how much I weigh or how far I run.  He cares about my soul.  I may never get that glorified pre-baby body back, but I will get a glorified body for all of eternity if only I can live my life in such a way to get to Heaven. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

DDrops Review and Giveaway!

I've written before about how I take Vitamin D on a daily basis because most everyone is deficient and the deficiency is linked to all sorts of health problems.  Living in a cold and snowy winter climate means my kids do not get outside in the sunshine as much as I would like, and because of that, I realized they should be getting some Vitamin D supplements as well.  Lucky for me, Ddrops are available.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently revised their Vitamin D recommendations so that breastfed children under the age of 1 should receive 400 IU Vitamin D and that children 1 year old and over should be receiving 600 IU Vitamin D per day.  Baby Ddrops has 400 IU Vitamin D per drop, whereas Ddrops® Booster has 600 IU Vitamin D per drop. 

We started putting the drops in our kid's "juice" (5% juice mixed with 95% water):

Alexander gets the Baby Ddrops:

And the bigger kids get the Ddrops Booster:

The handy dandy bottle makes it simple to put just one drop in each cup:

Sunshine in a cup
And there's no flavor or fighting with the kids to drink it.
Mother of the Year

I pretty much love Ddrops, in case you couldn't tell!  And now you've got a chance to love them too!  Just enter below to win your Ddrops shipped via

Thursday, February 21, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday: The Family Update Edition

Seven people in our family, seven quick takes...and go!

1) Phil is just as handsome as ever.  Here's the proof:
 This was taken after we got in the car at the mall and were headed home.  Right before this, we heard a car struggling to start, and Phil looks around like the Superman that he is and sees a girl in need.  "Do you need a jump?" he asks her  "Yes, thank you!" she says, relieved to see a nice guy offering his services.  He is just the most helpful person I know.  Making dinner, cleaning the house, putting the kids to bed, getting up at night to soothe a bad dreamer, he does it all.  When we had the blizzard last weekend, I tried to apologize to him for having so many of my family members at our house, and he honestly said "I'm so glad they are here.  I love to help."  Best.catch.ever.
2) Me:
Juuuuust dark and grainy enough to make me not hate it.
I keep on doing my four favorite activity groups - working, working out, working on the blog, and eating.

3) John-Paul:
He loved this Dickens book from the library
My first-born boy is going to be ten on Monday.  TEN!  What the hay?  I get emotional every time I think about it.  And he gets really excited!  We told the kids they could each have a "friend" birthday party when they turned ten, and so he has decided to go see this movie and then to Friendly's for ice cream sundaes.  We are holding off to do it until the movie officially opens in a couple weeks.  He is still a major bookworm, and reads huge novels in one day if he's allowed.  Which he's often not, much to his chagrin.  Good thing he's cute.

4) Andrew:
Andrew in the middle of two cousins
 Andrew is feeling like the very mature second grader because while all his classmates are preparing for First Holy Communion, he has already received the sacrament and has been altar serving for about 8 months now.  He is still a natural at athletics of any variety and we have to force him to read during "rest time" because he'd rather be doing anything but.  At least he's cute.

5) Eamon:
My roller derby king
Eamon is loving that he is on the same basketball team as Andrew and talks about the games all the time.  He has also decided he wants to have his hair "a little longish on top so he can make it stick up" and spends time in the bathroom achieving that look with water.  He is a great reader but prefers doing workbooks or playing card games.  He's still such a cuddlebug and told me the other day "THANK YOU for having this baby (Xander) because he is so funny!"  He is slowly starting to be a better (read: less picky) eater, but not fast enough for our liking.  Thank goodness he's cute.

6) My Maggie Moo:
Rollerblading queen
 Maggie whispers in my ear on a daily basis that "Girls rule and boys drool.  But not mans or babies, they rule too."  Us girls have to stick together in this testosterone filled house, dontchaknow.  She pines for a sister the way I used to pine for my first kiss.  Desperately and to no avail.  She has learned to read and loves spending time doing so.  Next year she will be in Kindergarten and is excited to wear a uniform!  Always worried about fashion, this one.  Lucky for her, she's cute.

7) Xander B.
Here I am!
What a little trouble maker this guy is.  He is into everything and we should have named him Captain Destructo.  If he was my first baby, I would be a lot more stressed out about the fact that he is so full of energy and devilish ways, but he is not my first and like a wise grand-multipara, I know that this too shall pass.  Or at least I can ship him off to school in a few years.  Whichever comes sooner!  The problem is that he is so funny and charming while he's being naughty that everyone laughs at him which is the fuel for his fire.  At Mass the other day, he started giving everyone peace around us like he was running a campaign, and when everyone stopped indulging his whims, he said "Peace" and shook his own hand. Thank God he's cute!

Now have a lovely weekend with your own family, and love them all a little more than the day before! Because if nothing else, at least they're cute, amiright?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

24 Hour February Getaway

Do you ever drive your husband crazy because one side of your personality says "Save!  Pay off debt!  Don't buy anything ever!" and then the other side says "We really need to go on a vacation!  We work hard, we should enjoy ourselves every once in a while!  I'd rather buy memories than things!"  

No?  Me neither.

Just kidding, guilty as charged.  While I'm normally a great saver and debt-payer-offer, sometimes I set aside a little money in our Hawaii vacation fund that never happened and save up enough for a little getaway for  the family.  Partly it’s because I’m a super fun mom, but mostly it’s because I go crazy if we have a week off from school and work and have nothing planned. 

So on this February vacation, we packed up The Beast and drove to Coco Key!  We had stayed at a Coco Key Resort in New Jersey last year because I got a wicked good deal on a groupon.  This year, no luck with the groupon, but when we were planning our day trip, I realized it would be hardly any money more to stay overnight which meant we could go to Coco Key for an afternoon/evening and the next day.  Score!

(Disclaimer: all photos taken on my phone, so blurriness ahead!)

The city!
Cari, does this bridge count as architecture?  If so, then I'm playing!
Boston Bridge
 We tried to check in at 4 but our room wasn’t ready yet, so I asked the lady for our bracelets to go swimming in the meantime.  We swam our little hearts out until around 7 pm when we finally went and checked into the room.  Because we had waited so long, they didn’t even charge us for two passes to the waterpark.  Four were included with the hotel room, and Xander was free, so score again!

My lovies in their swimmies.
One part of the water park
The hotel room was awesome, it was a family suite and had a separate area with 2 twin beds and a tv, and then a big room with a king size bed, fridge and microwave.  The fridge and microwave are essentials to us on a trip because I pack up food to save moolah.  See…thrifty!

Get out of here, Mom, we're watching the Disney Channel that you won't pay for at home.
 We had a roughish night because Xander didn’t want to sleep very well in his pack and play (come on Graco, can you make a plusher version?), and against every ounce of my being, we finally let him come sleep in the bed with us.  He still thrashed all around and beat us up pretty bad. 

But alas, morning came and we raced out to make it to the 7 am Mass I had researched.  We arrived at 7:04 which is pretty Martin standard, only to see the priest blowing out the candles.  Apparently Mass starts at 6:45 during Lent and is super-duper quick.  How about updating your websites, Catholic parishes???  A cute old lady saw us fly in only to turn around and leave and said “Don’t worry, God knows your heart” and made us feel almost as good as daily Mass would have. 

We then went to breakfast at a restaurant where I had bought a certificate from (thrifty wins again!) and it was delicious.  Eamon, who is our red velvet fanatic (why? who knows?), was so psyched to see red velvet pancakes on the menu that he ordered three, and the nice waitress sized up his puny frame and said that probably two would do.  When he tasted how good they were, he said “Next time I am definitely getting 3!”

Seriously, the pancakes are bigger than he is!

Yes, they are all mine.  Thank you, stranger, for asking me the most popular question of my life.
Because I knows you needed a closeup of my ultimate omelet.
 After we had stuffed ourselves and answered a plethora questions about our family size, and how we got around, we left to go back to the hotel to change into water wear, pack up and check out.  Then we went to the water park and played for 4 hours before heading home.

Ear plugs, courtesy of ear tubes.

You mean I can splash and make messes without getting into trouble??

I do have four other children, but this is the one I had to watch like a hawk...through my phone camera lens, of course.

See!  There's my girl!

My two babes. 

Surfer Boys

For a bathing suit that is practically a dress, the upper crest could use a little more fabric.  

Come on guys, just look happy for a second.

Ahh, Dad can relax because Xander is....
...wait for it...
Napping in the stroller!!
 My lazy river boys:

See the big bucket at the top of the slides?  And those happy people waiting in line below?
 They ain't so happy anymore!

Of course, we can’t make a trip near Boston without finding and stopping at a Trader Joe's to pick up our two buck chuck groceries.  Oh Trader Joe’s why won’t you open a store that’s less than an hour away from our home?

The car ride home was a leeeetle longer than I like, but I watched Minor Revisions on my phone and the kids played with their fantastic car kits their Aunt Larisa made them.  We stuffed the baby full of food and Veggie Tales songs, and all were content.

Look what one mini chocolate pretzel can do!
Healthier fare

Now that we are back home, the kids are already saying “Remember when we went to Coco Key?” (um, yeah it was today) and trying to plan out our next trip.  Who says money can’t buy happiness?  Hehehehe!  But really, family getaways are something I love to spend on (frugally! And within reason! – sorry, my thrifty side was getting anxious).