Friday, December 30, 2016

Puppy Loves: Dry Dog Food, Dirty Socks, and Damp Diapers

Sooooo, we got a dog for Christmas! Are we crazy?  We've been asked many times, and apparently, yes!  Here's how it all went down...


Sometime in September, Maggie and I went for a walk ("girl time") with the baby and she talked my ear off about dogs.  She shared which of her friends had dogs, which dog breed was the cutest in the world, and which dog even had his own book series.  I knew my daughter loved dogs, but I didn't know she was so into them.  It started my wheels turning, and I wondered if we really had any reason NOT to get a dog.

Phil and I had a conversation that night, and I think he was surprised that after years of saying we would never get a dog (another thing to feed and care for!) I was opening myself up to the possibility.  Call it a moment of weakness, call it temporary insanity, call it what you will...I was getting excited at the thought of our family having a pup.  And then I realized that if we could do it for Christmas, I wouldn't have to do too much Christmas shopping...the dog would be the big gift!  And that basically sold this tired mom of seven on the idea.


A dog for Christmas, now what kind of dog did we want?  We researched breeds and spent so much time looking at sites like to find rescue dogs, only to fill out applications and follow leads to then be turned away because we had too many children, too many young children, a cat, worked outside the home, or no fenced in yard.  It was maddening.  These dogs need a good loving home, with people to play with, good food, and lots of exercise.  We could provide all that!  These dogs were homeless!  But we kept running into dead ends and eventually just started looking at breeders.  Of course, when you go that route, you have to be very careful of puppy mills, and we talked to a bunch of breeders and googled their names/company's names to determine if they were legit.  The whole search was exhausting.  Down in Amish country, there were a LOT of puppy mills, just an FYI.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

The kids got their big present yesterday (I apologize for the poor video quality, but I never went to school for it):

And some photos from last night and this morning:

 Now we're off to celebrate Christmas dinner with the rest of my family at my brother's house who is 50 today!  Happy Birthday Sean!!  And Merry Christmas to you all!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

7QT: The End of 2016 Edition

Let's wind down 2016 with a recap of each perfect that there's seven...and that I have these fancy school photo proofs that I never ordered ;)



My 8th grader who has turned into a man child this past year.  He's as tall (taller?) than me now and he even has had to shave his blond but bushy mustache.  He continues to read all the books in the house, and rereads his fave series: Michael Vey, Harry Potter, and Fablehaven.  He has the same tight knit group of friends since 6th grade when we switched schools that includes one boy and two girls.  He is still crushing hard on the same girl for the past 3 years as well.  He came to the high school where Phil and I work and spent a day as a student.  He loved it, which is a good thing because this is where he's coming!  He took the placement exam and we told him if he gets one of the top ten scores, he gets a new phone.  What he doesn't know is that he's getting a new phone anyway once we switch carriers ;)  Motivation, baby!  He's a wicked smart kid who definitely is lazy/distracted/disorganized when it comes to school.  Typical boy thing, methinks.  Yesterday in the car he told me he might not want to get into all honors classes because he doesn't want to get too stressed out about school.  And he wants to know the minimum requirement for sports seasons he needs to participate in (which is two) so he can plan that out as well.  On the other hand, he's aiming to continue running in the student council, and hopes to make the NHS as soon as possible.  It's like he wants to do just well enough, but not have to try too hard.  Which is basically what we tell him for every science fair: get an A but don't go qualify for state.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  He filled out an application to work at a local ice cream place for the summer and also one to referee soccer games in the fall, because we told him when he's 14 he needs to find a job.  We're cruel like that.  In the meantime, he's been helping out my Dad here and there on the downstairs remodel and babysitting for us.  He serves daily mass, Sunday mass, and Latin mass once a month, and is just as tall as the priests on the altar!  He's really a super great kid who literally gets lost in a book and is making this teenager thing look easy.



My 6th grader is thankfully not having any growth spurts yet.  Unlike his big brother, he does not have any friends that are girls (eeeeww) and does not like any girls (double eeeeww) and hates that all the girls like him ;)  He'll come around soon enough.  Andrew took to middle school with ease, as he is more naturally organized.  He is a star on the soccer field, basketball court, and wins 5k races like they ain't no thang.  The kid is just unbelievably athletically inclined.  He still hates reading, unless it's a sports fact book, or a Ripley's Believe it or Not, or a comic book.  He wears the crown for most dramatic in the house.  When he's mad, watch out!  And when he's "sick" we never know if it's real or just a man-cold.  Andrew also wears the best big brother crown in the house.  He is always always always looking out for his younger brothers, in particular.  He's the one holding their hand in the parking lot, offering to put them to bed, and roughhousing with them , much to their delight.  He's a good doobie who is happy as long as we let him play sports and eat lots at dinner.  He serves every Mass he attends, even the Latin ones, and is so reverent on the altar.  He is a competitive kid who does not like to lose, and does his best in every way possible.  Oh, and he has great hair ;)



My sweetheart 4th grader.  Eamon is following in Andrew's footsteps with loving all things sports.  He's a beast playing soccer and basketball, and follows every football team imaginable.  He is constantly asking me why he's not allowed to play football, and vows he will just play in college since I won't let him do it until then.  Eamon lives in a perfect Catholic bubble that allows him to want to be a priest and be celebrated for vocalizing that.  Between his home life, school life, and church life, everyone supports him and is praying for his vocation.  It's so important he has this as he is a quiet(ish) boy who could easily get embarrassed if something was said to go against his desires.  He is training to become a Latin mass server and is the server at regular masses.  He loves bagels, and eats one pretty much every night before bed (slathered with tons of cream cheese) because he "needs to gain weight"!  Eamon used to hate reading, but has recently fallen in love with The Great Brain series and that makes Phil so excited.  He adores his big brothers, fights all.the.time with his sister, and loves playing with his little brothers.  He does not want a "hairstyle" because that means he would need to use gel, and then our pastor would poke fun at him using gel, and he wants to avoid all that.  Buzzcuts for lyfe.  This nugget is super easy to please and basically just a joy to have around.



Maggie my feisty 3rd grader.  Woosh this girl alternates between being so cute/helpful/loving and moody/whiny/difficult.  She has a sense of justice that rules her worldview, and will literally count what every body gets when it comes to food to make sure they all get the same number of carrot sticks or m & m's.  God forbid there's any unfairness in the distribution, because she will let you know.  I think she may make the perfect judge one day!  She is the first to tell me how pretty I look, or how much she loves my earrings, which keeps her alive one more day ;)  She is an avid reader, and wise beyond her years, just so very smart.  She played soccer on an all-girls team this year (as opposed to the coed team she used to play on) and she scored in just about every game.  We put her in swimming lessons to make sure she knew all the strokes, and she is actually a really great little swimmer.  Very fast and her strokes look awesome.  I'm trying to talk her into joining the swim team as I think swimming might be her sport for high school, but she wants to take a break to play basketball.  She is not Irish stepdancing this year, and doesn't seem to miss it (though I do!) and plans on running her first 5k this June, which is a switch after years of saying that running makes her cry :)  She loves doing anything art & crafty and is always leaving us little love notes.  She enjoys doing anything with just me or another female friend and calls it "girl time" even if it's just sweeping the floor while I'm doing the dishes and singing the new Train song.  She's a goodhearted gal with emotions a little too big for her britches.



Oh Kindergarten has been AMAZING for this boy!  Settled him right down!  He's still the craziest/funniest/annoyingist one at home, but at least at school he is towing the line and not ending up in the principal's office (yet!)  Alexander will tell you he's the "big brother of two" and takes that role pretty seriously.  He loves any attention his big brothers throw his way, but would be just as happy sitting by himself on the couch watching tv or playing a video game.  He is also finishing up swimming lessons right now, and has improved so much!  He was so scared of the water, but can now swim without floaties and jumps in like it's no one's business.  Like Maggie, I think swimming might be his sport of choice, which works out well since he doesn't love soccer too much.  He's only 5 so we have lots of time to discover his interests.  Maybe music?  I wish music lessons were something we could give to our kids, but we just can't do it all!  With a name like Xander Blaise, he already has the makings of a rock star ;)  Xander loves to be read to, but not any books that are scary, you know, like the classic thriller "The Big Hungry Bear".  He's so scared of that nonexistent bear!  He loves "Monster at the End of This Book", which was my childhood favorite, and can read Dr. Seuss books on his own.  He has a major fear of getting lost/left behind and needs to know the precise details of any given day to feel secure.  For instance, if I say we're going to Mass, he'll ask "Then what?" and continue on until I run out of plans for the day.  He's a precocious but tenderhearted little fellow.



Oh what a joy this boy is.  I have  a thing for toddlers, because they're just so adorable!  Even when they're naughty, they can be redirected pretty easily and they just give off such unconditional love.  Declan is 2 but will tell you he's gonna be three (in April).  He has been talking non-stop about the blue present he's going to get for Christmas with a toy inside.  Sometimes he says it's a helicopter, but usually just a toy.  He's easily pleased!  His favorite show is still Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and he needs his blankie and pacifier to sleep at night.  He actually loves to go to bed to get them.  He copies Alexander's every word/movement/trait and just wants anything he has.  He's also a good big brother to Brendan, mimicking me with soothing phrases when he cries "It's ok, buddy" and sings him the ABC's.  This boy is is such a jumping bean, he loves doing anything athletically inclined and playing outside is his favorite.  Eating, however, is still a struggle.  He just grazes and has to be spoon fed to finish a meal.  It's frustrating because he is sooooo skinny!  He only weighs 26 pounds.  He loves superheroes, and calls them all Superman and makes really funny impersonations of people's faces if he sees a photo of someone.  He's a darling lovebug with the best manners of the whole crew.



Our baby boy, affectionately known as BB for Baby Brendan, is four months already! He is rolling all around the floor and loves sleeping on his tummy.  He is weaning himself from breast to bottle as apparently I can't make milk fast enough for his liking.  I would have like to nurse him through the winter season so he could get my antibodies in the milk, but I've learned to just go with the (nonexistent milk) flow.  He's 15 pounds and 24.25 inches which means he's totally average.  He loves to smile and be sung to, and just can not sleep through the night yet.  The doctor said we can start oatmeal cereal anytime we want, so we might try to put it in his last bottle to see if it helps him sleep longer.  For a totally surprise baby, sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much love I have for him.  How can a mother's heart love so many people so very much?  It's a miracle and so is he!

And that's a wrap for now, I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple more posts before the new year.  Have a very merry Christmas to you all, thanks for hanging around these parts!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Card 2016

I think everybody should have received theirs by mail, so I can post our card here now:

As one of my sister's said "Great 80's album cover".

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

7QT: Bad Fat, Good Song, and Great Pants

It's time for Quick Takes times 7:


You know what I don't feel good about?  The Body Fat Composition I just had done at work that told me I am 1/3 body fat!!  How gross is that?  I went and ate some chocolate to console myself.  

The only reason I subjected myself to the health screening (which also told me I was overweight according to my BMI) was to be entered in a raffle for a Fitbit Flex, and I won!  Phil and I already wear these Fitbits every day, but now JP will be getting a nice gift for his 14th bday!  So I guess the humiliation was worth it.


After that screening I decided to join Weight Watchers.  Again.  I had much success with the plan about 7 years ago, right before Maggie turned two.  I lost 20 pounds, trained for my first half-marathon, and just got in really great shape.  I remember always being hungry though, and I've never had success with the plan again in reaching my goal weight.  

But I *think* it might stick this time.  I have a cholesterol check at the end of January, and a physical sometime after that, so I would love to get my body back to optimal health.  It requires will power and I'm gonna have to dig deep to find some.  Their new app makes it so easy to track food, and my Fitbit syncs with the app to calculate my activity points!  


Speaking of apps, do you guys use the Walmart app? 

I was a big fan of the Target Cartwheel app to save money, but with the Walmart one, you just buy your junk and then scan the receipt.  The app searches to see if there are any lower prices of what you just bought in the area, and gives you back the difference in price.  I always get a few bucks back, fun!


Tomorrow night, my book club is having their annual Christmas party.  I'm like the worst book club member because I can only go in the summer, and even then I barely read the books...but I like the parties ;)  I'm bringing these yummy desserts - try them for the holidays, people go nuts over them!


Currently obsessed with Train's new song:



The other day I wore my green pants and a white blouse to work, and got so many compliments on the pants (very holidayesque) that I thought I'd share.  

They're winter spruce pixie pants from Old Navy and I order them in tall to reach my ankles perfectly (I'm 5'6").


Twice this week I realized how small the world is.  Once was when I realized a mom I'd been following on Instagram for awhile had dated my cousin 12 years ago!  Then I called the police station to talk about giving a donation from work, and the person who answered was a friend I'd made also 12 years ago in a mommy and me group.  Things like this always remind me that we are all intertwined, and bring forth the reality of the communion of saints.  So cool!

Have a great swimming lesson viewing, basketball playing, football watching, book club partying kind of weekend everybody!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

St. Nick, Jesus Writes, and Christmas Card Regret: An Advent post

My kids are the luckiest.  I never even knew that St. Nicholas Day was a thing until my kids started going to Catholic school, and didn't start doing anything at home until the kids asked why St. Nick only visited schools.  With no good answer, we started giving them something small in their stockings.  Some years, I am on the ball and get a thoughtful gift for each child, and some years (like this one) everybody gets a chocolate Santa St. nick and tub o' gum (tic tacs for the fresh-breath-obsessed two year old).

The early birds get the worms.

At the kid's school, they all made little shoes out of paper, after some wise moms thought about how disgusting the school hallways would smell if every kid left a shoe out there all night.  Those same wise moms then met on Monday night and filled the little paper shoes with a candy cane, chocolate coins, a prayer card about St. Nick, and this cute St. Nick candy bar.  We decorated the stage with some Christmas trees and faux presents and fireplace, and the kids thought it was all so magical.  Alexander was so so so very excited for "the REAL St. Nick to come to the school and visit.  NOT a guy in costume, the REAL St. Nick."  

St. Nick 2014

After the day was over I asked him if he met St. Nick and he said "Well, it was actually just a guy in a costume because I heard my teacher whisper to another teacher that his costume looked really great this year".  Shattered.dreams.  But stuffing his face with candy healed his broken heart.


On an unrelated note, Maggie and Eamon were discussing whether Jesus was right or left handed, and Maggie said, "I know He's right handed.  He sits at the right hand of the Father."  Well there you go.  


On another unrelated note, I have major CCR this year.  That's Christmas Card Regret.  I got my kids coordinating outfits, went to a cool place to shoot the photo, and then couldn't decide between two shots.  This was one of them:

and the other was the one I eventually chose for the card.  The problem is that while the photo looks better staged and the background is interesting, there are too many shadows and the kids are so small in the picture that you can't see their cute little faces.  Phil thinks it's the better, more interesting choice, but I think people want to see what the kids look like each year, and they have to squint and hold this one up to some good lighting to do that. Ah well, just know if you get a card from us this year that it's not my favorite and blame Phil, mkay?

I feel better explaining that ;)  Carry on Adventing, everybody.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Parenting with Perserverance

One of the hardest parts of parenting for someone (ahem) who tends towards laziness, is the constant need to discipline, teach, interact, and keep an eye on children.  They need our attention and almost any daily situation is an opportunity of learning and growth for them.  It can be exhausting.  Especially the discipline side of it, that's never fun, and I find that I have totally eased up on the littles than I did for the biggies.  Sometimes, letting go is okay but usually I just don't want to actually get off my keister and deal with the drama.  

Yesterday, Andrew and Eamon (ages 12 and 10) played a CYO basketball game.  This year is so nice because they can both play on the same team.  After years of practicing together, they can finally put it to the test in games.  And boy oh boy are they fun to watch.  They are fast, they are aggressive, they know how to really play the game.  They can read each other so well and as Maggie said, they "pass, pass, score".  Phil and I actually argue over who gets to watch their games, because it's just that enjoyable.  We are so proud of the hardworking athletes they have become.  Andrew, as the oldest on the team, is particularly great in his leadership role, helping the younger kids know where to go, continually passing them the ball to try and let them score, and cheering them on.

After the game, the coach's wife stopped me to tell me what a fine young man Andrew is.  She said "We can all see what he's doing out there on the court, and I actually had to turn away to wipe my eyes because it's so beautiful to see."  I started crying, of course, and thanked her.  He is a fine young man, indeed and it made me even prouder to hear how beautifully his soul is developing along with his athleticism.  I can't take any credit whatsoever for the great things my kids do, and I can't punish myself too much for the mistakes they make.  They are each their own.  However, it made me realize how the small, daily minutiae all adds up and becomes a greater sum.

When we teach our toddlers to take turns with the toy,
They become people who know how to share the spotlight.

When we don't let them have dessert until they finish their dinner,
We teach them that delayed gratification is the sweetest.

When we give them a daily routine,
 They learn time management.

When we feed them wholesome food, get them to bed on time, and keep them active,
They learn how to keep their bodies healthy and happy.

When we send them to timeout for a bad decision,
They learn that their actions have consequences.

When we lose our temper and our patience is gone,
They learn how to accept an apology and dole out mercy.

When we show them how to be kind,
They become a true friend.

When we teach them to treat others as they want to be treated,
They become people of honor, respect, and trust.

When we make them apologize for hurting someone's feelings,
They become compassionate adults and future saints.

And when we do our best to raise them, despite our flaws,
They become better people than us.

Sometimes wiping faces and dirty bums, filling sippy cups and slicing apples, doling out kisses and punishments on the daily can make a tired parent.  But these little moments matter.  You matter.  One day those little kids grow up and surprise you that in spite of yourself, they turn out pretty awesome.  Where there's love, there's grace, and anything is possible with perseverance.

Friday, December 2, 2016

7qt: Thanksgiving, A Birthday and Advent, Oh My!

Tagging along with Kelly and friends because it's Friday!!


Thanksgiving Happened:

JP set the table and I just loved the way he folded the napkins.  We used our wedding china for the first time ever!  We hosted this year because it was a small crowd, just our family, my sister's family and my parents.

Mr. Brendan loved his first Thansgiving too!


I can't believe we are closing out the first week of Advent already!  This year, Christmas is overwhelming me a little.  While gift-giving is normally my love language, this year it all just feels like too much.  We are strongly considering just doing a family gift this year for the kids, if it all works out in time, and if not I think the presents might be scarce this year.  All families have years like this, right?  Years where finances are bigger (hello new baby!  diapers!  formula!  daycare! for two!) and parents are so tired physically and mentally that the thought of shopping make me want to crawl into bed and wake up in 2017.  But I don't want the kids to feel like a new sibling = less special Christmas for them.  I think trying to keep each kid feeling loved and happy and treasured is one of the hardest parts of being a parent of many.  It certainly gives me lots of mom guilt.


Yesterday was Maggie's NINTH birthday!!

She always seems older than her age.

Gammy and Grandpa gave her that huge puppy, and Declan promptly stole it!

As excited as Maggie was, I think Xander was even more!

We got her an Easy-Bake Oven (Wow, that price!  I got it for less than $40!) and kit to go with it.  I feel like this is one of those presents that she's too old for but Xander really wanted it too, so it's a two-for-one deal.  She also wanted the first book in this series, and needed some clothes, especially jeans that aren't skinny, which are nearly impossible to find!  Seriously, at Children's Place, their girl's jean categories are: Skinny, Super Skinny, Jeggings, or Boot Cut.  So boot cut it was.


Maggie's teacher this year is really awesome for imparting theology all throughout their day, and Maggie has been learning so much.  We were on a walk the other day, and crossed a bridge where we could see the street we had already walked down.  I said "Hey, we were just there and now we're here!" And she said "If we were Padre Pio we could be in both places at the same time!"  

Another day, I was arranging for her best friend to come over to play and once I had gotten all the logistics of it worked out with the friend's mother, I went in to tell Maggie.  Knowing she was going to be super excited for a playdate, I jokingly said "I have some good news, but first tell me who's your favorite mother?" And she turned to me and said "Mary.  Why?"


We had Xander's godFather over for dinner last weekend, and he had brought some wine.  When Xander took a drink from his water cup, he said "Is this wine?"  We told him that is was only water, and Fr. Jay said "I wish I could turn water into wine!" and Xander looked at him and said "Well, Monsignor (our pastor) could do it."


I was on the ball this year with our Christmas card photos.  Don't expect it to happen again ;)  I don't want to show you the exact photo we used for the card, but I'll show you some of the poses we didn't use.  All our boys already had a white button down shirt and black pants, and Maggie had this beautiful dress handed down (similar) to her from a cousin.  I found some matching ties and an outfit for Brendan, and it was the least amount of money I've spent on Christmas card attire ever.  And you know these are going to be their Christmas Mass outfits too ;)


That was a lot, this one's a freebie.

Have a wonderful first weekend of December everybody!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Online Family Shopping Guide

While I wish my Christmas shopping was already done in time for Advent, let's be honest and say that I haven't even started.  A new baby is an excuse for not getting much else done for like what, a least?  I asked my kids and husband and myself (in the mirror) what their past fave Christmas/bday presents have been and complied the list below.  Since it is Cyber Monday, and I basically do alllll of my purchasing online, happy shopping!!  

Big Boys

Pull-up bar (I can't recommend enough!!  Perfect energy burner!)

Kindle fire and case (So cheap right now)

Michael Vey series (use code HOLIDAYBOOK to save $10 off of $25)

Rubik's Cube (Andrew is obsessed!)

Nike Elite socks (They can't get enough colors!)

Fleece hoodies (for the boys who hate coats)

Girl's choices

American Girl doll (Maggie wants a WellieWisher this year)

Shining Light Dolls (great Catholic present!)

Dice to play Bolo

Hubby's faves

Fitbit (We both wear ours everyday!)

Hair Clippers (for the price of ONE haircut)

Running shoes for him

Ice ball maker

Younger Boys

Pogostick (We make them go out and jump when they're getting underfoot)

Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry DVDs (Huge faves here)

Disgusting Jelly Beans (Fun stocking stuffers)

My picks

Running water bottle (Handheld and I don't run without it)

 Running shoes for her

Garment steamer (For the gal who hates ironing...which is like everybody, yes?)

I'll keep adding as I remember more and more...

Saturday, November 19, 2016

7qt: Saturday is the New Friday

Saturday is the new Friday, right Kelly?  Tardy to the party, as usual.


So proud of my Franciscan University classmate on his new position!!  This gives me some faith and hope in the Trump administration.


Maggie loves her Bernadette books, and now the author, Emily Ortega, has written a new book about a boy named Victor.

Victor is Bernadette's brother, and this book is his journey through Lent.  I just love Emily's style, her books weave Catholic imagery throughout but they are so loved by kids, they just get engrossed in the story.  Maggie's birthday is coming up soon, so I'm giving her Victor and the Fix-It Challenge, but I'm sure Eamon (who's in 4th grade like Victor) will be stealing it.


I've found a great postpartum shirt and pants this time around.  And by great I mean flowy and elastic-waisted.  And by postpartum I mean all the years following when you've had a baby.  9 months on, 9 years off so I say.  Elastic waists and flowy tops are great for Thanksgiving too :)



Phil's littlest sister just got engaged!

Diana and Ryan will be getting married in May, just about 15 years to the day after Phil and I tied the knot.  She was just a little peanut back when I met her, and I can't believe she's all grown up and ready to walk down the aisle.  I love weddings!!  Fun fact: all six of the kids in Phil's family went to Franciscan University, so chances are, if you're a Steubie grad from 1996-2011, you knew (or would recognize) a Martin.


This week has been full of swimming practices, basketball practices and basketball games.

 Tomorrow is a 5k race for the three eldest boys and then their CYO Jamboree kickoff game for Andrew and Eamon.  After that, I plan to sit on the couch and watch the Patriots win while eating some chips and pizza.  And wonder why I can't lose the baby weight this time around....but this little 3 month old was worth it!!

My cup overflows


Last weekend, our church held their Variety Show and our Pastor did a funny skit called "Monsignor's Revenge" where he knelt with all his altar servers to pray.  Then their pre-recorded voices came on as if we could hear them praying.  He got to poke fun at the altar servers, and it was great!  Most years the altar servers create a skit where they get to poke fun at him, hence the "Revenge".  I love that my boys have such a great relationship with him and he's a fun and normal man in their life.


Some very November photos to record for the fading memory:

Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend and Happy Thanksgiving if I don't see you before then!