Monday, August 31, 2015

Career Aspirations

You wanna know my ultimate dream job?

To be a stay-at-home mom...

 When all my kids are in school.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Finding Sanity in 7 Quick Steps

After 36 years of life, I know what makes me feel happy and sane.  Here they are in no particular order...



Can't beat that natural high that comes from working out.  It's time alone, getting healthy, clearing your mind and working off those calories.



I'm not much of a sweets person, as too much sugar can make me anxious, but I love me some fatty dishes.  I try to eat healthy 80% of the time, but the other 20% is for full on indulgences.  And I don't feel guilty at all.  Treats are for enjoying!



We love sending our kids to our parish school.  I look around on social media and see so many moms who are so sad to be away from their chickadees for the day, and I may be a terrible mother, but I do not feel that way at all.  Sending my kids to an awesome Catholic school was always our dream, and we all thrive on it.  It just works for us!



Phil and I love to get out a whenever possible.  I'd rather pay $100 a month on a date/babysitter than spend that money on marriage counseling.  Date nights are fun therapy!



I know I just said I spend money on date nights, but for pretty much everything else we do, I try to find the most inexpensive option.  Home haircuts, home cooking, cheap family entertainment, sales and coupons,  I truly enjoy getting a good deal, it's like a sport for me, and I'm competitive!!



The kids over the age of 4 have a list of chores that is their duty.  Once a week, we can say "Everybody do your chore chart" and the house gets pretty much all cleaned.  It's awesome!  Of course during the week it's Phil and I who have to do all the daily cleanups as they have hardly any time between school and sports and homework.  But on the weekend, the house gets a good scrubbing!



Any chance we have, we try to get out of the house and do something together as a family.  Usually it's something active like a family walk or bike ride or swim at the beach.  We look for free things to do like going to a park or the library or a playground or Mass or Adoration orConfession.  Sometimes we just splurge and get ice cream!  It's always at the end of a day filled with family time that I go to bed super happy and fulfilled, no matter what we did together.

And that's a wrap, here's to hoping you find peace and happiness this weekend!  Go see Kelly for more quick takes :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Giving Kids Enough Time, Attention, and Love

The Old Woman in the Shoe and I have one thing in common – we have more kids than we know with what to do. In all seriousness, I love my children, but sometimes life can get overwhelmingly busy. Along with all the time challenges of working outside the home, schoolwork and sports schedules for the kids, and the fact that everybody likes to eat, it’s easy to fall into the mom guilt trap (or lie) that says each of my children is not getting enough quality time. So many couples stop after one or two kids assuming the answer to “Will my children get enough love?” is an easy no.
But here’s the secret, love doesn’t work like that.
Read more over at Nourish Motherhood, where I'm super excited to be a contributor!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Invisible Maid

My Dad would come home from work with a smile on his face, which would soon turn into a frown and a sigh.  Once again, one of us kids had thrown our jacket/backpack/sports bag on the couch in the family room instead of putting it in it's proper place.  It was just so easy to do!  The couch was right in front of you when you entered through the back door, and we were tired and hungry and immature.  It was a pretty minor offense in the grand scheme of things, but it was also my Dad's pet peeve.  "Hang up your coats!  Put away your shoes!  There's no maid that lives here!"  

He always said that to us: "There's no maid here!" which used to drive me crazy.  I already knew there was no maid that lived with us, I wished a maid had lived with us, and I didn't need to be reminded of her lacking presence daily.  What was I, a slave???

Fast forward 20 years and six kids of my own later...

Guess what I overheard my own sweet husband telling the kids on the daily?  "Pick up your stuff! Clean up your room! There's no maid here!"  And it just warms the cockles of my heart!  Now in my role as wife and mom, I finally get why it drove my Dad crazy.  It wasn't because he was trying to teach us to be neat (though there was that too!), it bothered him that we were disrespecting our mother, his wife.  By making a mess and expecting her to clean it up, we were defining her role as our house cleaner, chauffeur, and cook.  And she was so much more than that!  My Dad knew it, and wanted us to know it too.  I overheard Phil say to J-P "When you leave all your stuff around, you are basically saying to Mom that you expect her to clean up after you.  That you are too good to pick things up, but she is not."  And a light dawned on J-P's big Sweeney head, he finally got it, there is no magical invisible maid.   There is only Mom (and Dad).

I never doubted the love my Dad has for my Mom, and I never doubt the love Phil has for me, because teaching kids to respect and help their mother is one of the most loving acts a husband can do for his wife.  

Well that and hiring a maid ;)  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Soccer Season Has Started So Somebody Shoot Me

Can you believe it's already time for soccer season again?  Seems like just yesterday I was complaining about having four kids playing soccer, and here I am a year later, complaining that we have 5 kids playing.  That's right, five kids playing on five different teams, which means five practice schedules during the week and five games every Sunday afternoon.  We are at the fields every day except for Monday.  Who knew Monday would become my favorite day of the week?

What was I thinking?  It's not like my kids are heading to play professional soccer one day, I don't know if they will play at college level.  Heck, I don't even know if they will go to college!  

What I do know is that they all want to play soccer, and we want them to be healthy, active, happy, holy kids.  Playing sports helps us accomplish these goals even though it makes our role as their parents a bit difficult for the season.  There are many things in this life we deny our children because it does not make them better people, or because we don't have the ability to do them.  Sports is something we choose to invest our time and energy in for our kids, and hopefully they will learn many life lessons, just as we did.

The high school at which we work, and where they will attend, makes it mandatory for students to play two seasons of athletics or else they have to take gym class, and I want my kids to feel prepared for that level when it arrives.  Being involved in sports also allows them to learn how to take care of their bodes (healthy food, hydration, rest, and exercise), make friends outside their comfort zone, develop physical coordination, learn to play as part of a group, cheer on teammates, lose gracefully, win graciously, and fulfill commitments.  For us, sports is a big win win.  

But don't mind if I complain along the way, because the good things in life ain't easy, and I'm not the world's greatest soccer mom.  That would be her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NFP - New Technology I Want to Try

Hey - If you don't want to talk shop about Natural Family Planning, body temps and cycles, then click away

I warned you, here we go.

I was using my ovulation monitor this morning, as part of the Marquette Model of NFP, and I realized I had only three test sticks left.  I logged onto where I had been ordering them as a subscriber for years, and therefore not truly paying attention to the cost, and was shocked to see how much these test sticks now cost!  A box of 30 tests (which is 1.5 cycles' worth for me) is $45.00!!!  That means each year, I spend $360.00 on test sticks, or about $1 a day.  Now I know that might not seem like a lot of money to some people, but when you realize that most types of NFP are basically free after the initial purchase of a basal thermometer, or the cost of a class or book that explains the techniques, the Marquette Method is quite expensive.  Not to mention that the monitor itself costs a lot, which I was able to get for free as I was part of the initial study of women using this method.

I will say that the Marquette Method truly helped me finally figure out my long, irregular cycles, and has helped us tremendously with being able to space out our children a bit.  We have been using this method since Alexander was born four years ago, and while I love what I've learned I'm pretty confident in my ability to stop using it and going back to either the Sympto-Thermal Method or Creighton.  But honestly, it's a little scary!  The monitor helped give me that pat on the back that I was reading my signs correctly, and when it's left for just me, myself, and I to interpret the signs, we can get a little overwhelmed and filled with self-doubt.  

So what's a budget-conscious baby-spacing girl to do?

I think this next piece of technology might be the answer.  Let me be clear, I am in no way affiliated with this but I do like to shop around and when my friend told me about the YONO Fertility Friend, I was very intrigued.  

The YONO is a wearable ear bud that measures your basal body temperature while you sleep, then once placed in the monitor, transmits the data to your smartphone!  It is made (as are ovulation monitors) to try and help women achieve pregnancy.  But the flip side of the coin is that in identifying your best dates to conceive, you are also identifying your best dates to abstain if you are trying to avoid a pregnancy.  

With the YONO, you are able to get an accurate basal body temp without having to wake up at the same time each day and take your temp!  We all know how hard that can be as moms who need to wake up at various times during the night or morning to tend to kids, and the YONO does it for you while you sleep!  Then based on the data collected after a while, the YONO can even start predicting your future cycles.  How cool is that?  NFP without taking a temperature, without charting, all while using science as that pat on the back to confirm everything you're tracking.  

I think I'm sold!  Right now, YONO is raising money to finish product development and you can pledge $119 to get one earbud and one monitor.  Or you can pledge $169 to get two earbuds and two monitors.  These are supposed to be delivered in December and I just want to help spread the news about this device, and then leave it up to you, your spouse, and God to determine if it's right for your family :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Soufeel: A Review and Giveaway

I've never had a charm bracelet in my adult life.  As a girl I remember having a little silver bracelet with a few metal charms - a soccer ball, an ice skate, an ice cream cone and a Scottie dog.  But the expense of a Pandora bracelet and charms just was always out of my reach.  Then I heard about Soufeel Jewelry and saw how inexpensive and cute their charms were and I was ready to jump on the charm bracelet bandwagon.

I had such a hard time choosing what to pick, but finally settled on these:

That's a Mom charm (similar), a Summer's Desire glass bead, a February birthstone (similar), another beautiful Murano glass bead (they have tons!), and The Eiffel Tower charm.

The bracelet I chose was this one, but I didn't read the instructions carefully where it says to order your size based on your wrist circumference PLUS 1.5 cm.  Whoops!  My bracelet was a little tight once the charms were on.  Soufeel generously offered to send me a bigger bracelet and is letting me give away the smaller bracelet to one of you!  Just leave a comment on who you would give the bracelet to (it's 17 cm, so either a small-wristed woman or younger girl would be perfect) and I'll send it along!  Winner will be chosen on Friday, August 14.

The bracelet and charms came beautifully packaged, and would make a great gift (hint, hint to any men who read this blog!)

I can't wait to keep adding to my charm bracelet, and I know I will continue to purchase the charms from Soufeel because of their great quality and inexpensive prices.  Soufeel also offers free shipping worldwide with orders over $50 and 365-day return and exchange guarantee.  Currently, they are having the following specials:

Free Necklace with orders over $59.00
Free S925 Charm with orders over $79.00
The bracelet is only $15.95.
Every order gets a free luxury white box .

And as an added bonus, use coupon code Colleen5  for 5% off for any order.  Happy Shopping!!