Monday, February 29, 2016

So That Happened

We have a teenager in the house of Martin!  Whaaaaaaaaat?

Our resident book nerd and big brother extraordinaire has entered the forbidden teenage years...because I specifically forbade it...but nobody listens to me ;)

JP had "the best birthday ever.  Seriously.  Ever.  The best one of my life.  Seriously.  For reals."  and it was in big part due to this gift...

You can hear in the background Maggie yelling "But it's not even your 8th grade graduation!!"  We had told JP that he would get a phone at that point in his life, but we gave it to him earlier, as a thirteen year old gift instead, mostly because we need him to have a phone.  Selfish, I know!  We don't have a home phone, and there's times when Phil is running some kid somewhere, and I have to pick up another kid from somewhere else, and JP could be left home in charge if only he had a phone so we could all keep in touch.  But he doesn't need to know that :)  He has so many rules to follow - no taking the phone anywhere, no using it without asking us, no taking it to his bedroom at night, and no internet access.  So it's a dumbed-down smart phone.  We'll lighten up as he gets older, but first-borns get the strict version of mom and dad and babies get the lazy, tired version.

JP and I share a birthday, and he's definitely my most favorite birthday gift ever, but Phil gave me my second favorite birthday gift this year.  I cried when I laid eyes on her (part pregnancy hormones and part my mom started crying too):

A pregnant Mary!  Isn't she beautiful?

He also gave me a subscription to Netflix so we could watch Fuller House:

We've only seen the first episode so far, and it was cute!  Anybody else watching?

And that was our weekend, along with some basketball games and practices for Andrew and Eamon, some playground trips, a library trip, delivery of appliances, a sinus infection for moi, a men's retreat for Phil, live station of the cross rehearsal for JP, a First Communion meeting, a haircut for Maggie, and four dentist appointments.  I remember being a mom of littles just desperate for any activity to leave the house, and now I'm like, can we please just all stay at home forever??  But like I said, nobody listens to me ;)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Nomad Life, and Lenten Lessons

We have been living at my parent's house for a week now, all eight of us evicted from our usual surroundings, and dropped into a beautiful three bedroom home in a seaside village.  We left our home because our kitchen is being expanded, our master bedroom turned into a dining room, and our office/old dining room is being turned into the new master bedroom.  My parents are not living in the house because they are living la vida loca in Florida for the month of February, but due to return home in a couple days.

I mean, really, why do we all not live in Florida?  Smart move, Grace.

There have been some definite perks to this situation.  For starters, I love the village in which my parents live.  My two sisters and their families live there also, and it's so nice to meet up at playgrounds and let all the cousins play together.  When Phil and I can escape for long walks, we walk to the beach and say hello to the ocean and walk back and admire the gorgeous beach houses along the way.   There is a sense that we are on vacation when we stay there.  Even though we are still going to work and school, there seems to be less demands on our time as when we are at home - no house projects to do or bedroom furniture to rearrange, or yard work calling our his name.  Even our cat, Evie, seems to enjoy the new digs, picking the best spot on the couch as her own.

Trying to hide amidst the choas

But of course, when you're not living at home, there are some downsides.  We are living out of suitcases and have very few outfits to choose from each day.  This works great for the kids, who wear school uniforms, but I'm wondering how long people at work will realize that my outfits are on a four day repeat.  Because we don't know exactly when we will be able to return home (contractors, electricians, and building permits can't seem to align in a time sensitive manner), we are sort of meal-planning for each day.  I find myself stopping by the grocery store much more frequently, purchasing meals for that day only, like I used to watch the village ladies do in Austria when I was in college.  We are so euro chic.  All the kids' activities also seem so much further away now, basketball practices are 17 minutes away instead of 6, games are 20 minutes away instead of 5, etc.   Phil keeps popping by our house to check in on the work, but also to pick up the items we forgot to pack, and there seems to be something desperately needed each day from at least one of our family members.

But, as small as these annoyances are, we are so grateful to be able to escape the renovations and live in peace and quiet (well relatively's just the normal hustle and bustle of the children).  Look at the mess our house is in...


Living away from home, out of our comfort zone, has been such a great Lenten thing for us to do.  I always feel like no matter what I choose to "do for Lent", God gives me what I need more.  And this Lent, He's private tutoring me in detachment.

The hardest detachment for me has been from our nightly tv shows.  That is so pathetic.  Yes, my parents have a tv, but all of our previously recorded shows are on our dvr at home, and we never watch tv in real time, we're always an episode behind, so I can't watch the new episode as it airs since I haven't yet watched the previous episode recorded back at home.  #firstworldproblems  BUT, this means we've been reading more, talking more, and sleeping more.  

The longer drive times everywhere means we have to get moving even earlier than normal in the morning, and that's hard for this pregger to do.  BUT it also means more time in the car which means I can pray a whole rosary on the way to work, and have great one-on-one conversations with the kids as I chauffeur them around.  Yesterday, while driving to and from the orthodontist, JP and I had a lovely talk about what's going on in his world.  I love that boy so much and feel so lucky we got a good egg to lead our pack.

The clothing, as I already complained about, is another big detachment for me.  I'm no fashion diva, but sometimes I try on an outfit or three before deciding what to wear.  BUT this forced capsule suitcase wardrobe has saved me time, energy, and from the temptation to vanity.  It also means we are very on top of the laundry game, and having the washer/dryer on the first floor has been so nice!  Especially for Phil as he is the basement launderer at home.

Having our home renovated without seeing it happen (my choice, it stresses me out), and having to constantly make decisions and choose appliances, light fixtures, cabinets, counters is very hard for me. (Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine.)  I can usually think about it for about five minutes before I shut down and become exhausted, which is super fun for Phil.  BUT, letting go of some control, letting go of some financial savings, and letting go of my selfish, lazy desires has pushed me to grow up a bit.

And the most widespread detachment of this nomad life has been letting go of the daily comforts I indulge in.  The snacks that are hidden away, normally munched on at night, the comforter I wrap myself in as I watch tv and fall asleep on the couch, the kids toys/sports equipment/books/movies that keep them occupied without involving my attention, my king sized bed that once was a splurge, but now feels like a necessity, my jewelry and shoes and various coats that can change up a look, my scented lotion I use daily, the sound machine we sleep with, I could go on and on.  BUT denying these small things each day has reminded me to "offer it up" for those suffering much (MUCH) worse.  If somehow my tiny sacrifice of not eating sour cream & cheddar chips can be a prayer for a sick child somewhere, then I should be happy to do it.

Above all, these nomad life lessons have taught me to be grateful for all that I have in my life.  Some detachment lessons were long overdue, and I hope I can take these reminders back with me when I have it all at my fingertips again.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?  

You win, Lent.  You always do :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Let's Answer Some Questions, Shall We?

First of all, THANK YOU everybody so much for your well-wishes and funny comments (I'm looking at you, Madeline!) about our boy news.  We keep getting asked the same questions when we share our news, so I thought I'd answer some of them here.

How's Maggie doing?  
(This is by far the most popular question!!)

Really well, actually!  We were expecting a melt-down, but it helped that I knew the baby was a boy for a few days before she found out, and I kept prepping her saying things like "God's chosen this member of our family for a special reason" and "If it's another boy, you will still get to be the princess" and "Aren't you so excited to have a new baby sibling?!?"  She kept saying that she wanted a sister, but would love a little brother, and they way she reacted was so cute, she just kept giggling and then started thinking of boy names.  I took her out the next day to pick out some new earrings and get frozen yogurt, and had some nice girl time.  

How are YOU doing? 
(meaning me)

When I first heard the news that the baby was healthy after all the tests, and didn't yet know the gender, I was so happy and thankful and I said to God that I honestly didn't even care if it was a boy or girl.  When Phil and I found out it was a boy, we just looked at each other and laughed.  I did think it was a girl, so I was a little surprised, but I didn't feel mad or sad at all.  It was just like "Here we go again!"  I mentioned to a friend that I feel like a biblical woman...I mean who has six sons?  (Well, Susan and Kate do...and that's good company!)  We think we are pretty good boy parents (girls are challenging for us!) and we won't need anything at all for this baby boy!

Are the boys excited?

Duh, of course.  They are their own built-in boys club.  Their own sports team.  These Martin boys will be legendary ;)  We're hoping God calls at least one of them to priesthood!  And we will try our hardest to raise some good holy men who know how to treat a woman.  

Where will the baby sleep?

Babies stay in a bassinet in our room for a few months or until they sleep mostly through the night.  Then this little boy will share a room with Maggie until it gets too awkward for her, and by then I'm hoping JP will be heading off to college and we'll move the boys around in the two boy bedrooms.  This is seriously the least of my worries.  My Dad slept in a bed with three other siblings in a cottage in Ireland in a family of 14.  My mom slept in a closet in a small multi-family home outside of Boston.  So yeah, we're living pretty rich.

What will you name him?

Ugh, I hate the name much pressure!  And we are running out of boy names!  But, Kate from Sanctanomina is going to come to my rescue and give me some awesome name ideas on her Catholic baby-naming blog in a few weeks.  And once Phil and I prayerfully decide what this baby boy's name is, we'll be keeping it a secret.  We've learned from past mistakes ;)

Will you try again for another girl?

Ummmm, no.  I'm not saying we won't have more babies, but it won't be because we are trying for a girl.  Have you seen our track record?

Is the giveaway over yet?

Ok, nobody has asked me this, but it is ALMOST over.  Go enter now to win ten wonderful Easter basket items for your family.  I'll be announcing the winner on Thursday!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Friday, February 19, 2016

7QT: The Week Off

How have I not posted for a whole week?  Thank goodness Kelly keeps me accountable on Fridays with her Seven Quick Takes link-up!


This was our February vacation week here in Massachusetts, so that's why everything felt a bit off kilter.  On Valentine's Day, which also happened to be the coldest day of the winter here (-9 degrees when we walked out the door at 7 am), we took the kids to breakfast.  If you're gonna take the kids out to eat, breakfast is by far the easiest - everybody's in good moods, there's so much food that even picky toddlers like, and it's way cheaper than dinner out.

We got asked if they were all siblings twice, and if they were all ours a few times, and got about 99 stares and out-loud counting of how many children we had.  They were mostly older people, so they probably didn't realize they were counting out loud, but geez.  Our waitress was very nice though, and was excited to tell us that the cook came from a family of 9 kids.  I love having a big family so much, but it's a little challenging for an introvert to be the center of attention whenever we are all out together.  Although I totally get it, I still stare and count heads when I see a big family :)


On Tuesday and Wednesday, we headed to the Cape and stayed at a resort that had lots of fun activities for the kids during vacation week.  We will definitely be making this an annual overnight - it was a blast!  They had a nice big pool and jacuzzi that the kids lived in while they weren't doing some other activity.


The first morning there, we went to the Breakfast with Elmo.  John-Paul eats like he's never seen food, and he's so fit, it drives me crazy - oh to be an *almost* teenage boy!  

When Elmo came out, Declan ran away until we finally talked him into getting this close:

And Xander just said he would go see Elmo later.  Then after Elmo was long gone, he said he was ready to see him, and I said it was too late because he went back to Sesame Street  The boys asked Xander why he was scared of Elmo and he yelled "I'm not scared!  I just wanted to see him LATER!"  Ok, Xander, you do you.


While we were at the hotel, the genetic counselor called with results from the testing.  She told me that the baby looks awesome, and all test results came back extremely low-risk.  Phew!  I was really on the fence about getting these tests done, but now that the results are good, I feel like I can go through the rest of this pregnancy without worrying!  

13 weeks with a healthy baby!!

She asked me if I wanted to know the gender, and I wanted to scream YES! but I told her to put it in an envelope and I would pick it up later.  I called Phil, who was down at the pool with the kids (I was in the hotel room while Declan napped) and let him know the good news, and we tried to figure out when we could pick up the envelope and go out to dinner to open it.  But we couldn't really get the logistics of it all down, and I was dying to find out, so I called back the office and asked them to leave me a message on my phone telling me the gender.  They did, and when Phil got back to the room after swimming, we snuck into the bathroom and listened to the message.  "It's a ......


You didn't think I was going to tell you that easily, did you?  Hahaha, we will share as soon as the kids know.  They want to cut into a cake to see the frosting color - pink for girl, blue for boy - but we gave up sweets for Lent so we have to wait until Saturday night to reveal their new brother or sister to them.  I might actually make cupckes with m&ms inside, that would be yummers.  Speaking of sweets, we actually broke our Lenten fast the whole time we were on the Cape, because there were ice cream parties, and ice cream gift certificates, and Trader Joe's Scandinavian gummy candies to be had. 

Soooo good, and my thighs wish I never discovered them!

 But I think God will understand because I told Him we were breaking the fast on these two days before Lent even started.  That's totally a get-out-of-purgatory move, right?

Phil and I shared the sampler - 6 scoops of ice cream!  Xander had a little bowl envy :)


After our wonderful overnight trip, we headed back to my parent's house where we will be living while our kitchen gets renovated!!  Thank you all for your helpful tips on my last post.  We will be going with a white island, and white subway tile as a back splash to tie it together.  You guys are the coolest!  Since living at my parent's (they are in Florida), Declan has made a new bestie:

I tried to have him give up the pacifier for Lent but he said he was focusing on his prayer life instead, and who am I to judge?


Eamon broke his toe when he banged it into a door jam at my parent's house.  

But got a hot chocolate out of the deal, so not too shabby.  What's also good timing is that he was supposed to play in three tournament basketball games for his All Star team this weekend, and the games were an hour away, and we were dreading it, and now he can't play.  I mean, I wouldn't want him to break his toe to get me out of driving hours and hours, but it was a nice perk of the whole situation for us.  Not for him, he's bummed, and his team is down the cutest little point guard.  Seriously, I always prided our family on not breaking any bones with all the sports they play (even Phil and I never have) and Eamon is shattering (pun very much intended) our family record with two broken bones within 5 months.  Aye aye aye.


So we'll see you on the flip side with a pink or blue announcement!  

Tata for now!

Peace out!

Friday, February 12, 2016

7QT: Giveaway, Baby, Snow Days and Renos


Don't forget to enter my giveaway from the last post for an Ultimate Easter Basket, featuring ten awesome items!


Baby Martin #7 Update:

Well, we hit 12 weeks this week, with the official due date being changed to August 24, 2016.  I had the NT Scan done, and everything looked perfectly healthy (thank you Jesus!).  The baby is so so so active on the ultrasound. He/she kept bending his/her legs, then jumping up and sliding back down.  It was so cool to watch, even the ultrasound tech couldn't stop laughing.  I had the blood work taken to find out the gender results within a week or so!


Anybody want to guess what it is before we know for sure?  Here's some "symptoms" to keep you informed:

Baby's heart rate was 166.

My face is breaking out in pimples and coldsores.  It's like I'm Colleen Sweeney from 1996.

Dairy makes me super sick.

I've gained 9 pounds in 12 weeks (aye aye aye!).

And, well, that's it really.  I'm nauseous when I don't eat often (hence the weight gain) and I get pretty bad headaches/light-headedness in the evenings.


The kids had Catholic Schools Week last week, it was very fun!  I only took photos of career day and the basketball game of Faculty vs. Kids.  Spoiler alert, the kids won!

Maggie as a baker.  And a mom and soccer player, in case you couldn't tell.

Eamon as a pro football player.  He still wants to be a priest, but we didn't plan ahead too well!

Andrew as yet another football player.  The Manning boys got nothing on us!

Xander as a builder like Grandpa.  But he's also a baker like Maggie.

JP as a CIA agent, when the business man idea didn't pan out because he couldn't find a briefcase.

And since Declan's not old enough to do things like this, here's a video of him trying to count, but with a potty mouth!

Only CYO kids were allowed to play, so only my Andrew could play - he's the cute one in the middle!  Who, me, biased?

Maggie and the girls cheering them on.

JP with his bff.  I guess 7th graders smile with closed lips??

Declan ate M&M's all night!

The amazing faculty and staff that didn't mind looking like fools ;)  That's our pastor on the end right!

Xander's 100th day of preschool.  Those ears kill me.  And the chapped lips below the mouth are totally what I used to get.  My older siblings called them Clown Lips.  We're not so cruel to Xander Blaise :)


Kitchen reno talk...

We went to research and price out replacing out kitchen cabinets, counters, appliances, and adding an island.  Talk about sticker shock!!  We are thinking of keeping our cabinets, because aside from me wanting white cabinets, they are good quality and we can't justify spending thousands of dollars to replace them.  We will replace our ugly light counter tops with dark ones, and add an island with a matching counter top.  We will also replace our dishwasher, oven, and microwave which are all really old and in need of repair soon.  We're going stainless steel with those.  So...the decorating question I have is:

Should I go with a white island in the style I want, or match the island to the brown cabinets we already have?

I've been googling brown cabinets with a white island, and think these look nice.  I just have a fear that doing it in my actual kitchen will look mismatched:


It's been snowing around here!  We got about a foot last Friday and school was cancelled and then another foot on Monday and school was cancelled again!  Yay for 4 day weekends, especially the Monday after the Superbowl :)

And yay for boys who can shovel!

The kids finally got to use their snowball scoopers they got from their Aunt & Uncle at Christmas!  And we colored some water and they prettied things up a bit!

This weekend is supposed to be in the single digits - which makes cuddling to keep warm a necessity and not just a smooth Valentine's Day move.


Lent is off to a great start.  It's always so easy in the beginning, isn't it?  As a family we are giving up sweets at home and eating seafood on Friday dinners.  I'm the only seafood lover in the house, so it's really everybody else's sacrifice :)  We also "cheat" on Sundays (starting with the Saturday night vigil) and birthdays (you can't choose your birthday), and all major saints days.  So, umm, a lot.  As far as individual sacrifices, I told the kids it was between them and God what they wanted to give up or add on to make them a better person at the end of Lent then at the beginning.  It's funny how some of my kids are great at keeping things like that to themselves and others just  I totally get that, as I want to tell Phil every time I practice a virtuous act.  Restraint is hard :)

Have a wonderful Lenten, wintery, romantic Valentiney weekend everybody!

Go see Kelly for more!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The ULTIMATE Easter Basket Giveaway (Ten prizes!)

I know, I know, it's not even Lent yet (one more day of feasting!) and I'm already talking about Easter!  But you know how some people like to get their Christmas shopping finished before Advent?  Why not get your Easter shopping done before Lent?  That should totally be a thing, right?!?  So I've rounded up some of my favorite Catholic items to create the ULTIMATE Easter Basket for one lucky winner.  Please make sure you visit these beautiful shops, all of the owners were so wonderful to work with and so generous to provide me with an item for this giveaway!  I couldn't recommend them any more whole-heartedly!

Ok, here's what you can win...TEN items in all!


G.K. Chesterton shirt from MONKROCK.  It reads "In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe, and the cross can all fit together".  We gave one of these to Phil's Dad a few years ago, and he loves it!  (You get to pick the size)


A Holy Family necklace from Jaspern Jade.  This necklace is such a wonderful reminder of what our families should strive to imitate even though there are so many difficult crosses thrown our way.  What better example of family life than Mary, Joseph, and Jesus?  Right?!  


A beautiful print from Hatch Prints with a quote from St. Catherine of Sienna "Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire."  I thought this would be perfect for a child's bedroom (or any room, really!) as a reminder that they will only be happy if they follow God's Will.  We have this one hanging in Maggie's room :)


A felt saint softie of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Saintly Silver.  These softies are so adorable, we have St. Margaret Mary, St. Alexander, and St. Declan!  Erin has so many options available in her store, even those harder to find saints.


A set of Rosary Roses from Annery's Handmade. These pretty roses are perfect for a busy toddler (or older adult whose fingers can't quite grasp small beads anymore)  to hold during the family rosary.  They come in a cute pouch with the mysteries of the rosary cards to help older kids along.  These are definitely going to help make our family rosaries a little more peaceful!


A onesie that reads "Cradle Catholic" from Marilyn's Diaper Castle.  I saw this onesie and knew I wanted, no, needed it for Martin Baby #7.  How adorably witty! (You can choose the size)


A Benedictine bracelet for kids from Special Creation 4 U.  We bought these for my older boys to wear (and had them blessed) to help keep them protected through St. Benedict's intercession.  These bracelets are hand woven in Medjugorje and fit children ages 3-13.


A lego rosary from Memento Moose.  How cool is this?  These legos can snap together, and as each prayer is said, you can snap off that lego brick and slide it along the cord to keep your place.  The perfect busy boy rosary.  Alexander loves his, but allllll the boys want one now!


Your choice of a mug:

 or tumbler:

 from Printable Prayers with the following morning offering prayer printed on it:

O God, I offer you this day, 
all I do, and think, and say,
in union with what once was done, 
on earth by Jesus Christ, your son.

What a great way to start each day!


And finally!  From Custom Crayons by Sara, a set of 8 cross crayons (each in their own Easter egg) with an Easter poem explaining the significance of each color.  Great for the toddler set, and such a nice alternative to all the candy kids usually get inside their Easter eggs :)

OK, now you've seen alllll the amazing prizes, so how do you enter to win?

Easy Peasy!  Use the Rafflecopter below and GOOD LUCK!  One winner will be chosen on February 25, 2016 :)