Friday, October 28, 2016

7QT: Enfamil, Basketball Drills, and Family Mills (I mean Meals)

UPDATED: Winner is Tricia!  I'll email you soon, congrats!

Linking up with Kelly, as usual!  See the 2nd post if you want to win a gift card for FIFTY BUCKS!!


I really dislike pumping.  I am so amazed at the moms who do this for any extended period of time, as every single pumping session I have is like a taste of purgatory for me.  But, I know I'm lucky I can produce breastmilk at all and that whatever I can squeeze out is good for Brendan, so I do it for as long as I can.  That being said, I am not opposed even the tiniest bit to using formula.  Brendan eats all the breastmilk I can express from the day before and then fills up on formula for the rest of his feedings until we're home together.  The most important thing is that baby gets nourished and grows, not about any mommy wars.  We're all just doing the best we can!  Phil bought this container of Enfamil when Brendan was born and here we are 10 weeks later just finishing up the last of it.

We will have to order more soon, though I think we are switching to this brand after doing much research (aka talking to friends who do all the research!).


Speaking of baby formula, how would you like to win a $50 gift card to buy some baby goodies from  Just leave a comment in the post about the best tip you have when it comes to baby feeding, and I'll pick a winner on November 6th!!


Alexander still reigns in this house with making us laugh the most, though Declan is becoming a comedic master as well.  The other day we were watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse from an old DVD.  I saw that there were only 3 mouskatools instead of the four mouskatools that are on the current episodes and asked Xander about it.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, then thank your lucky stars.

He said, "Oh, yeah, this show is from like 1968, so there were only three mouskatools back then."

Well, that explains it.


Phil and I have been killing it in the dinner game recently.  We make a meal plan on Friday nights (wow how our Friday night plans have changed!) and then create our shopping list from it (sometimes I even look at the circulars to see whats on sale!) and hit the grocery store on Sat morning.  Soooooo basically we are finally acting like responsible adults instead of stressing every afternoon about what we can whip up for dinner.  I'm sure you all already do this, but it's new to us and I love the results.  Plus every kid likes knowing what's on the menu and giving their two cents while we're in the planning stages.  We've made the following delicious meals lately:

Lemon Chicken (with rice and roasted cauliflower)

Weeknight Chili (with veggies and dip) 

Pasta w/ Prosciutto & Peas (but replaced some of the cream with chicken broth to lighten it up)

Maple Roast Pork (with baked potatoes and green beans)


Do you want to hear our basketball saga?  No?  Then move onto numero six.  Otherwise, here we go.

  Andrew and Eamon are in 6th and 4th grades respectively.  That means this year they could both play on the same CYO basketball team.  We were looking forward to the simplicity of life that would bring us this winter (the season actually runs from November through March).  We just found out last week that their CYO team had neither a coach nor enough players and it might be cancelled.  Phil was asked to be the coach but he said no due to the fact that we will also have Maggie on a basketball team and Maggie & Xander in swim lessons this winter so he couldn't commit to certain days/times.  

The boys were devastated that they might not be able to play basketball and asked if they could play for the town league that Eamon played for last year.  I did some searching and emailing and pleading and discovered that the 6th grade tryouts were that night but the 4th grade tryouts had already happened.  We were told Andrew had to come to tryouts or he couldn't play and Eamon might be able to be placed on a team since he had played last year for this league.  

Of course the night of tryouts was also the night of Parent Teacher conferences for Phil, so I schlepped all 7 kids out to a 1.5 hour tryout in the hottest sweatiest most crowded gym you can imagine.  Brendan slept for the whole time in the carrier (well, he may have just passed out from the heat, but either way he was quiet!) and JP was such a huge help to me by taking the littles out to the playground until it got too dark.  Ninety 5th and 6th grade boys tried out and about 10 coaches were their watching their every move, taking notes, it was so intense!  

Andrew and Eamon were placed on town teams and we were crossing our fingers that CYO would be cancelled.  But alas, it looks like they've found a coach and are working on getting more players.  We can't pull them off the CYO team because then we would be the reason the other boys couldn't play.  And after we asked the town league directors to jump through hoops (ha, hoops) to get our boys on teams, we can't pull them out there either.  So I think we will now have 3 basketball teams between Andrew & Eamon when we could have only had one.  I must have done something to upset the basketball fairies.


Aren't you glad you skipped straight to number 6?  Smart move.  This one's a freebie because 5 was too long and whiny.  Here's an All Saints Day photo from last year:

This year will look very similar because new family member = old costumes.


I can't believe it's Halloweekend already!!  We have a Halloween dance at the kids school tonight with a haunted stage that the 8th graders work so hard on to fundraise money for their big events.  I have no idea what it's going to look like but JP has been gathering sticks to bring in.  Tomorrow night is my family's October birthday party celebration complete with Halloween costumes.  And then Monday is the Halloween parade in a nearby town and trick or treating after. 

Halloween 2015, when I had my stuff together

Then Mom and Dad get to pick out all the best candy for themselves and throw the rest in a huge bowl which becomes family dessert for the month of November :)

Have a spooky fun-filled, raking leaves, meal planning, weekend everybody!

(Don't forget to leave a comment about baby feeding tips to win a $50 gift card!)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Christmas in October (A GIVEAWAY with ELEVEN WINNERS!)

It's that time of year when thoughts turn to pumpkins, apple cider, falling leaves and Christmas carols.  Wait...whaaaat?  Christmas is two whole months away!!!  

Consider this your official heads up.  Christmas is indeed two months away, but the time to start thinking about sending out Christmas cards is coming very soon.  By the time you coordinate the outfits, pose the photo, choose the card, get it delivered and then mail it out, you're looking at not.that.much.time.left.  

Have no fear, Colleen is here!  I've partnered with Basic Invite to gift one lucky winner 50 free Christmas cards.  I've always used a photo website that rhymes with Flutterby in the past for my Christmas card needs, and never thought of branching out until I saw what Basic Invite had to offer.  They have unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of  every single element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail!!  So you can change the background color, lettering, images, etc. to make it exactly how you want it.  You just can't do that on most other sites!  It makes it extremely easy to find a card that coordinates with your photo(s) instead of trying to fit your photo to a card.  You can even order a printed sample of your actual card so you can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place an order.  Basic Invite is just as colorful with their envelopes as their invitations. You can choose from over 40 different colors and all of the envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed without licking a single one.  They are so winning at this Christmas card game!  Not to mention thank you notes, baby announcements and more.

We haven't yet taken our Christmas card photo, but I played around with a couple of (low-quality) images I had just to give you an idea...

All of those words, the little flowery details, the lines, heart, backgrounds, etc. can all be changed in color.  It's really fun and easy to use.  I'm going to say "You're Welcome!"to the winner of the 50 cards now because I am so sure you will be totally pleased.  (Enter giveaway below)

Now to delight your ears...and get you in the Christmas spirit while you're designing those cards!

Dynamic Catholic released its first Christmas & Advent album. The album, OEmmanuel, is a new 10 track album featuring a mesmerizing synthesis of jazz improvisation, classical and sacred music. Here's their description:

Christmas Music at Its Very Best

Take a journey into the heart of Christmas with GRAMMY Award-winning pianist and composer J.J. Wright, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir, and Fifth House Ensemble. With creative renditions of traditional Advent and Christmas songs, O Emmanuel features the harmonious blend of angelic children’s voices, a jazz piano trio, adult vocal soloists, and talented instrumentalists to create an unforgettable listening experience. O Emmanuel will quickly become a Christmas favorite.

I went online and previewed some of the songs and they are beautiful and make me excited for the real reason for the Christmas season.  Matthew Kelly says O Emmanuel is exceptional. Every Catholic should get the chance to experience this one-of-a-kind Christmas CD.”  And Jen Fulwiler said"The Dynamic Catholic O Emmanuel Christmas album is a must-have for every home. Play it in the background as you go through your Christmas preparations, and you will never forget what this season is really about. It's the perfect antidote to all the distractions that threaten to consume us during this season."

And guess what? Dynamic Catholic is giving away TEN copies of their O Emmanual CD!! Your whole household will enjoy this joyful and soothing music, and maybe they'll leave you alone for a hot second so you can cook dinner in peace :)

There will be ELEVEN winners - one winner of the Christmas cards, and ten winners of one CD each!! Good luck, and remember, you can't win if you don't play!

(Extra entry over on Instagram!)

UPDATED!!! Winners are listed below...first winner gets the cards and the next ten winners get the CD! I will email all of you with the details. Congrats!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Good For You

Last week Maggie wanted to come along to one of the boys' soccer practices.  This is commonplace in our house, everybody wants to go to everyone else's practice.  They either join in if the coach is willing (Eamon always practices with his big brothers) or they just practice goal kicks on a nearby field/shoot hoops on the basketball court/throw a football or play at the playground.  Maggie always picks the playground option, but she is usually the only one so I asked her if she was ever lonely at the playground but she said nope.  I invited her to come for a run/walk with me instead to which she replied "No thanks.  But good for you, Mom,  for exercising" and ran off to the monkey bars to perfect her swing.

"Good for you."

That phrase can have such a negative connotation.  When my coworker has a day off and I'm stressed about work, I think "Good for you, must be nice".  When I run through the neighborhood with the big houses and the beautiful lawns, I think "Good for you, but why can't it be me?"  When I'm out with the kids and somebody is counting all the little heads and says "Wow, seven?  Good for you" it's usually not a compliment.

House photos from my beloved running neighborhood

But that's not how Maggie meant it at all.  She was innocent and sincere, and was actually encouraging me with her "Good for you".  She wasn't jealous of me going for a run, she could have gone for one too.  She wasn't put out by my choice to run, she was just choosing not to.  She was literally glad for me that I got to do something she knows I like (and makes me a much nicer mom!).  How wonderful it would be if we could all just be happy for one another's happiness.  We all know comparison is the thief of joy, yet the tendency to compare and feel miserable after is so readily there.  There are so many times I scroll through Instagram and see mothers dressed to the nines or with beautifully decorated houses and don't feel happy for them, but disappointed in myself.  How can we stop these negative thoughts?

This one's even on a cul-de-sac


As the VeggieTales taught me, "A thankful heart is a happy heart.  Be glad for what you have, that's an easy place to start."  I literally sing that song to myself when I'm feeling stuck in the comparison cycle.  And it helps!  This is my process (which I use way more often than a grown woman should):

1. Think about all the gifts I've been given in this life - family, home, faith, job, school system, parish, etc.  Say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for everything blessing I don't deserve.

I mean, come on!

2. Find the truth in any situation that makes us feel jealous/sad/disappointed with ourselves.  For example, that gorgeous neighborhood that I can be prone to covet?  I noticed one day that they have wicked ugly town trashcans.  Which reminded me that they have garbage inside those homes and have to take it out, just like everybody else.  That amazing mom who looks perfect in photos?  She definitely took 100 photos to get that one perfect shot she shared.  I realize this is not the most virtuous way to live, but it's a practical tip for someone who struggles with this vice.  Or so I've been told ;)

3.  Finally, remember that this life is fleeting.  Seriously, what does any of this matter if we don't get to Heaven?  And when Jesus says "You've won the race, GOOD FOR YOU!" He won't mean it sarcastically :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Moms Who Have Gone Ahead

When I was hugely pregnant with my fourth baby and had a 4 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old running around, I remember thinking "How do moms of big families do it?"  It wasn't just a general pondering, I wanted specifics.  I needed specifics.  I found out there was a family with 6 kids nearby (hi Michelle!) and I remember telling Phil that I just wanted to go sit in her house to see how she handles it all.  Not creepy at all since I didn't even know her back then ;)  Now we're the best of friends and she has 8 children under her roof plus takes care of my two youngest while I work.  Amazing.

Like, how do you take a nice Christmas card photo?
But where was I?  Oh yes, I wanted a glimpse into the secrets of parenthood, perhaps just some hope that these days wouldn't kill me and I wouldn't regret being open to life?  I wanted to walk side by side with moms who were in the same state of life so we could help each other and give each other tips and keep each other sane.  And then, Phil bought me this book for Christmas and I discovered mommy blogs.  Into my world came the likes of Danielle Bean, Rachel Balducci, Sarah Turner, Leila Lawler, and many others who don't even blog anymore.  These moms were so inspiring to me and so practically helpful with the day to day stuff.  I remember one blogger who wrote that when she feeds her kids waffles, she piles up a few waffles together and then cuts them into bite size pieces instead of cutting each one individually.  Little things like that I hadn't yet thought of as a young mom and helped me in the moment.  It not only helped me cut the waffles faster, but it reminded me that other moms were doing these same tasks for their children all over the world.  As lonely as it can feel being a mom, it was a nice reminder that there are millions of us doing the same work.

Where am I going with all of this?  I don't really know except to say that blogging/social media used to be such a great place to lift me up in my vocation.  But now, I don't know.  It seems like the blogging world is growing smaller, with more people (myself included) spending time on other platforms or only writing for the paycheck.  I miss posts about day to day life from my blogging buddies: Dwija and Cari and Lisa and Sarah and Aimee and Aubrey.  I think the combination of our children getting older and losing the freedom to write all about the babies they used to be is a big factor.  Also, there are always younger, newer, cooler, fresh bloggers out there that can make us older classically trained bloggers feel antiquated.  Seriously how do they raise children in designer clothes and have gorgeous homes with DIY decor?  Good for them, but sometimes it leaves me feeling left out and let down (my own problem, I know).

But it's exactly the moms of older kids, who have walked the path with me or are just slightly ahead to warn me of any falling rocks, whose ideas and opinions I want to read about.  Don't get me wrong, I will always love the mommy bloggers of babies and toddlers, as I'm still in those trenches myself!  But I can't read a post from a mom of babies who claims to know the without chuckling.  Maybe that's precisely another reason why moms of older kids don't blog much - because we realize after all these years of parenting all these different personalities that we don't know ANYTHING AT ALL :)

Seriously kids, I'm just winging it.

I realize I'm just questioning where all the older mommy bloggers are without helping with the solution.  Maybe this post is enough to get my own behind in gear to start writing like I used to, back when nobody knew I existed and I could pretty much say whatever I wanted without fear of anyone actually reading it!  Sadly, I don't think I can write that freely anymore, since I have to take into account that my bigger kids know I have a blog and Phil's students have discovered it.  I feel like an old lady wishing for days gone by and not wanting to give in to the notion that the blogging heyday may have come and gone.

Friday, October 14, 2016

7QT: 12, 8, 36

Hello and TGIF!  Why I can't seem to blog unless Kelly has a linkup, I'll never know.  Blogging FOMO I guess!


Andrew turned TWELVE!  My second baby will be a teenager next year.  Excuse me while I mop the puddle of myself up off the floor.

Ok, I'm back, but still weepy, because look at this cutie patootie!  Can I just freeze him and his handsome little face?  Please?

Andrew wanted a Fitbit for his birthday, but I looked at the prices and didn't think a 12 year old who plays three different sports (and would constantly have to take it off for each game) would be able to keep it in his possession.  So the much more affordable Garman Vivofit it was!  He was thrilled!  In fact, Eamon used his birthday money to buy one for himself and they compete with each other every day to see who gets the most steps.  They totally put shame in my step game, no wonder they're so thin!

On his birthday, after track practice and soccer practice, we celebrated with ice cream sundaes and some cousins.  Andrew loves to be celebrated (unlike some of my other shyer kids) and we had already had a birthday cake for him a few days before at Brendan's Baptism party (because that's where all the people were) hence the easy sundae choice :)

Being the sports nut that he is, all his gifts were sports related...

He got "slides" which Phil and I remember being big when we were in high school, but we called them "sandals".  My my, how times change.

He also got an Under Armour sports bag.  He loves it so much that he doesn't want to use it and get it dirty.  Ha!

And of course, a Dude Perfect shirt because obsessed is his current state.  He's also getting this book once it's released.

We love you Andrew with the funny middle name!

2)  My babiest of babies is 8 weeks old today!  He enjoys nursing, pooping, burping, sleeping, and keeping his parents up at night.  Hey when you've got 6 siblings, when else are you gonna get some quality parent time?

His smiles are a nice addition to his otherwise stunned or crying faces.  It was touch and go there for a while, but we decided we'll keep him ;)


Phil turned 36 this week!  We went out to dinner at a local bar and took BB with us, cause he loves to get tipsy on milksy.  I always feel like Phil gets the lamest birthdays because it's the third birthday in our family within two weeks.  And we added a Baptism in that time period this year! I did bake him a lemon cake and gave him one gift, and he got one from his parents too.   Thank goodness being showered in gifts is not this guy's receptive love language!!  Can you guess which love language he prefers?

He's holding his Thanksgiving gift ;)

The kids did make him cards!


My friend sent me this as a possible Halloween costume this year.  So easy and clever!


Phil's sister who is a Sister came to visit us all the way from Texas.  She got to meet her newest nephew and spend time with her goddaughter, whom she lavished in jewelry :)

Declan decided to streak in honor of her visit, just to make her feel more at home.


2005 with only two kids!

We have totally skipped apple picking this year, which makes it the first time ever that I can remember since having kids.  What a sin to live in beautiful New England and not go apple picking.  Maybe there will be some pumpkins left somewhere this weekend if we can find time to squeeze it in amongst the 6 soccer games, two variety show rehearsals, and a funeral!  Eeek!


Fabletics leggings and Saucony shoes - love both!

Let's talk baby weight.  Not Brendan's weight, but the weight he left behind.  Due to the gestational diabetes, I was dieting for his pregnancy and only gained 14 pounds total.  A week after he was born, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight (not my goal weight, but what I weighed when I got pregnant).  However, as soon as he was born, I started eating all the carbs and sugars I had been restricting, and now have gained weight.  This needs to go.  It's not really baby weight, it's just weight, and I'm not making healthy choices.  Plus, I would like to be able to wear my clothes again.  I have a physical coming up in less than a month, and I would like to have lost at least 5 pounds by then.  I've been running again during kids' soccer practices which feels so good, and I've started eating healthier (modified THM diet) and not devouring chocolate and chips at night.  

New evening activity: Running not eating :)

If anyone has any tips on trying to lose weight without affecting milk supply, I would love to hear them!

Have a happy Soccer Playing, Pumpkin Picking, Football Watching kind of weekend everybody!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Baptism of Brendan Joseph

Oh baptisms, you get me every time.  That part when, as parents, you promise to raise your child in the faith, is such a beautiful yet daunting task!  After weeks of newborn sleep deprivation and dirty diapers and countless feedings ~ it snaps me right back to what's important.  This is not our child but a child of God's and we are just blessed to try and get him back to Him.  

Phil's parents and two of his sisters were able to come up from Maryland to celebrate with us, and Phil's dad is very handily a Deacon who administered the sacrament to our 7th baby, Brendan Joseph. 


Our three eldest served at the Mass and then again at the Baptism following.  What a gift.

Deacon Gramps was a champ through the whole thing even while a mischievous Declan ran around the church, unable to be tamed.  Oh, two year olds, they can humble the most prideful of mothers :)

It cracks me up that Brendan's moment of Baptism is being blocked by Alexander's big head.  Such is the life of the seventh child, I suppose!

TOTALLY NOT THEOLOGICAL, but I loved that flyaway cardigan I was wearing.  So flowy, so flattering, so forgiving.  The 3 F's of fashion after children.  I went back and got another one.  OK, back to the sacrament at hand...

Brendan's godparents were so cute and lit the Baptismal candle together.  They are not married so it made me laugh because it looked romantical.  That's my brother-in-law, Bill and our "god-daughter" Haley.

Deacon Gramps blessed both myself and Phil as part of the Baptism, and seeing Phil's dad bless his son and his grandson always makes me tear up.  Good thing you can't see me face ;)

And that was a wrap!  Welcome to the Catholic Church Brendan Joseph Martin!  You've got a crazy family that adores you and godparents that are amazing, so you can only go up from here!

Paternal grandparents

Maternal grandparents

Then we all headed over to the school cafeteria to paaaaartaaaay:

Lots of family, friends, and food.  The 3 F's of partying.


 There was even an Irish step performance :)

I'm so so so grateful for all the gifts in my life, and there's nothing like the grace of a sacrament to remind me of that.