Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christmas 2019 With Too Many Pictures

Because if you don't take a million photos, did it ever really happen?

Ahhh, Christmas Eve.  The best day of the year.  We went to Mass at 4pm as a whole, healthy family (which is a rarity the past few holidays!) and my four oldest boys served.  They always serve every Mass they attend at our parish, but seeing them serve on Christmas, with a whole bunch of other boys, all decked out in red and white is really beautiful.

Snuck this photo during the homily when Father asked the kids to come forward.  Brendan and Declan are up there!

Bi-Annual Church Family Photo - Christmas and Easter!

We went home and the kids got to open a gift from each other (Secret Santa style) which is always amusing!  This year's big laughs went to Brendan for buying Xander a princess ball, Declan for buying Maggie a bracelet that says "Brother", and Andrew for wrapping up a watch for Declan over and over again to form a huge gift.  Declan kept opening each layer, like whaaaaat?

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Cape Codder Resort Family Getaway

Last year, I found out that a nice hotel on the Cape, The Cape Codder Resort, had some fun Christmas-y things going on.  I told Phil, and we planned to drive down one late afternoon/evening before Christmas.  But, fate decided to interrupt those plans by giving us all the stomach bug, one at a time.  So this year I was more determined than ever to go!  

Begin Rant:

{I actually used to work at this hotel, as a waitress in the breakfast restaurant, during the summer between high school and college.  I waitressed from 6 am until 1 pm, went home, ran some miles, showered, napped, and then worked at my parent's ice cream store from 5 - 11 pm, closed the store, got home at midnight, sleep and repeat.  Plus, I babysat every Friday night.  I think I lived off of yogurt, strawberries and ice cream that summer.  It was a busy time, spent saving up money for college, and it's why I can't stand the sight of a lazy teenager.  Go get a job already!  At least one!  I always had two or three!!!}

End rant.

Anyways, all that was just to say that I used to work at the Cape Codder, and now I wanted to go with my family and actually *enjoy it*.  We decided to make it a Christmas gift to each other and stay  overnight.  Live the good life for once, ya know?  

And boy, was it the good life for 24 hours :)

We checked into the hotel and took the kids out to dinner at Friendly's.  Not the parent's fave, but the younger ones certainly love it.  

Then we went back, got changed and headed to the indoor water park!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Will You Let God In?

The Catholic high school where Phil and I work, and our two oldest attend, sends out an Advent reflection each morning.  They are written from faculty and staff, current students, and alumni and friends.  John-Paul was asked to write the reflection for today, and I thought that his message was great, even if his word choice was a bit redundant (I know...tough love!  I think he was trying to reach a specific word count).  I needed to be reminded of this today, so without further ado...

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Third Tuesday of Advent
John-Paul Martin   |  Bishop Stang Class of 2021
           1st: Genesis 49:2, 8-10
       Psalms 72:1-2, 3-4AB, 7-8, 17
           Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17
Will You Let God In?
In today's gospel, we hear about the genealogy of Jesus from the beginning of Matthew. This is the passage that lists the names of Jesus' ancestors going all the way back to Abraham, with 42 generations in between. There are not that many people who like this Gospel because it drones on and on, never seeming to end with the names. However, if you look closely, you will see that this list of people is actually a very interesting story. I did some research, and it turns out that Jesus had some very interesting ancestors. In fact, there are four women mentioned in this genealogy, and of the four of them, two were prostitutes and one wasn't even Jewish. Also, David and his son Solomon both did some terrible things in their lifetimes, even though they are considered to be some of Israel's greatest leaders.
However, it is in this family that God was able to save the world. And, sadly, I imagine that there's brokenness in your family, just like there's brokenness in every family. I imagine there's a lot of brokenness in your life, just like there's brokenness in everyone's lives. But the truth is that even in the midst of brokenness, God can use it to bring out good. This is the story of Christmas. This is the reason why we read this genealogy. Because we realize that Jesus didn't come into a perfect world, from a perfect family, into a perfect environment. Jesus entered into our imperfect world, in a very imperfect environment, from an incredibly imperfect family. But even in the midst of this, He was able to do the most incredible thing in history.

All of us have broken hearts, and we have broken lives, we have broken families, broken relationships. But if we allow God into them, if we allow God into these crooked hearts, and these crooked relationships, and these crooked lives, and these crooked families, then we realize that what God did through this family, he can do in our family. Because God can write straight with crooked lines. We just have to let him in. This Christmas, let him in to your crooked heart, crooked relationships, crooked life, and crooked families. And let him do something amazing.

John-Paul Martin, Current Student, Class of 2021

Friday, December 13, 2019

7QT: A Book Giveaway!, Hobby Lobby, and Becoming Saints

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!!  Are you superstitious?  I'm just a little stitious ;)


Every time I sit down to write these takes, I have to do three things:

~ Look at our calendar from the past week
~ Look at the photos on my phone
~ Check my instagram feed

Do you know why I do all these things?  Because otherwise my frazzled, tired mom brain can't remember what we did, which therefore means I have nothing to write about in these weekly updates.  OK, just thought you should know how being me works.  Thank you, next.


Don't forget to enter the giveaway right here to win THREE wonderful books from Sophia Institute (I reviewed them in my last post).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Catholic Book Reviews - Christmas Edition and a GIVEAWAY!!!!

Giveaway of these great books over on Instagram!

For Saint Nicholas Day, all of my children received pajamas and a book, and a few of those books happened to be from Sophia Institute that I would like to tell you about.  So if you're looking for some Christmas gifts, I highly recommend the following...


This story is very cute for the children, and deep for the adult reading to them :)  I found myself really empathizing with the seed who is afraid to get taken out of the seed drawer and be planted in the yard.  It's hard to leave the comforts of life and step out in faith, not knowing what will happen.  In the seed's case, he becomes a beautiful tree that bears fruit and provides a fun place for families to play on and around.  What might it mean in our own life?  The book is inspiring to step up and face fears, and trust that God has a plan for our lives.  Plus, the book rhymes (my favorite kind of book) and the illustrations are beautiful.

Friday, December 6, 2019

7QT: Snow Day, St. Nick's, and Sickness

Happy Friday!!  Linking up with Kelly and posting photos from Tuesday's snowday intertwined with my quick takes because I'm the boss (of this blog anyway)...


After seeing these photos that Phil took of the youngest four boys playing outside in the snow, I realized I may have a blue winter coat problem?  How do they all have blue coats?  It IS my favorite color, so I guess I gravitate towards it when buying clothes for my kids.  Sorry boys, you've got the winter coat blues.


Today Is St. Nicholas's Day!!!  This is my friendly reminder for you moms to go grab some Christmas pj's or books or candy and fill your kids' stockings.  The littles watched the Veggie Tale Version of St. Nicholas last night, and were very excited to head to school this morning to see what St. Nick left in their paper bag shoes.  The highschoolers get to pay $5 to dress down in red or green today, and receive a Santa hat and cookies at lunch.  I just love Catholic school!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Princess Margaret Rosemary Turns Twelve

I can't even stand how old Maggie is looking in 6th grade this year.  She's taller than her 13 year old brother, shares shoes with me, and is officially out of the children's section at the clothes store.  And now she's 12.  TWELVE!  I still remember her like this:

Actually, that's not true.  When she was born, Eamon was a colicky 14 month old, and the first year of her life was an exhausted blur.  I really remember her like this:

 Oh my goodness, how cute was she?

OK, Colleen, enough reminiscing!  

Pull yourself together, woman!

Maggie's 12th birthday fell on a Sunday, and after Mass, Phil made her crepes with nutella and strawberries and whipped cream.  We added eggs and sausage for protein, and it was a lovely brunch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Gifts We *Actually* Bought and Received and USED in 2019

In case you need a little Black Friday shopping inspiration, here's some items we've been gifted this past year.  When you purchase through my links, we get a teeny tiny kickback, so I thank you for shopping that way!

The Dad

Scratch Tickets

An overnight getaway or dinner out always makes him happy too!

Teen Boys

phone! With phone case

Tickets for “Things-to-Do” like an Escape Room, Trampoline Park, Lazer Tag, that I usually can grab on Groupon.

Tween Girl

Twinkly lights for her room

(Used but good!) Ice skates

Little Boys

Boogie Boards and extra pens ***most used toy by far***

Marvel Toys


My big huge Gift Guide from years past is here, and my Big Book List is here.  Happy shopping!

Friday, November 22, 2019

7QT: The Theater, Prayer Museum, Basketball Season, Family Feud, and Holiday Shopping

Helllooooo!  What a fun week we had, starting out with tons of weekend activities.  Let's roll...


On Friday night, we went to our high school's performance of Arsenic and Old Lace, which was fantastic.  You can see the set and my boys in their roles over here.  That's right, my sports loving boys are now thespians!  Haha!  They played the roles of dead bodies, and only came up for the bow at the end.  BUT!  They can now truthfully list theater involvement on their college applications :)

Andrew was actually supposed to have a bigger role in the play, still as a dead body, but specifically the dead body that gets thrown in the window seat, and then later buried in the basement.  They figured out a few days before the play started that the boy who was supposed to put Andrew into the window seat couldn't physically lift him out of the box.  Even though Andrew is skinny, it's really hard to reach down into a box and try to lift dead body weight out.  So instead, they just did that whole scene with the lights off and no actual body in the box.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Books (for Boys) Books (for Girls) Books (for Moms)

Thank you to both Rachel Balducci and Jenny Uebbing for allowing me to share and link to their book lists.  Just in time for St. Nicholas Day gifts...happy shopping and reading!

Books for Boys 
(as gathered by Rachel Balducci's Instagram Readers)

Michael Vey series                                  Calvin and Hobbes (my addition, a family fave!)

Blake and Mortimer comics                    Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years (current fave)

Redwall                                                   Tin Tin Comics  

Lord of the Rings                                    Mike Lupica sports books

Narnia                                                      Gary Paulsen books

Percy Jackson                                          Raymond Arroyo's books

Tom Sawyer                                             Eragon series

Mysterious Benedict Society                   Wings of Fire

Freddy the Pig                                          Percy Jackson series

I Survived series                                       Land of Stories

Treasure Island                                         Dragons Love Tacos

Swiss Family Robinson                            Gregor the Overlander

Kidnapped                                                 Rangers Apprentice

Hardy Boys                                               Brotherband

The Green Ember                                      Rising Above

Hatchet                                                    100 Cupboard Series

My Side of the Mountain                         The Sign of the Beaver

Swallows and Amazons                            The Chronicles of Prydain

The Impossible Quest                               Peter Nimble

Books for Girls 

(as gathered by Rachel Balducci's Instagram Readers)

The Penderwicks                                         Boxcar Children

Nancy Drew                                                Thea Stilton

American Girl                                             Happy Hollisters

Trixie Belden                                              Betsy Tacy

The Bernadette Series                                 Lemony Snicket

The Land of Elyon                                      Indian in the Cupboard

Wingfeather Saga                                       Black Stallion

Ella Enchanted                                           Shadow Children series (my addition!)

Green Ember                                             Babysitters Club

Shoe books                                                Little House

Chime Travelers                                        Mary Poppins

Land of Stories                                         Meet the Austins

Doll People                                                The Littles

The Mitchells                                            Dear America Diaries

Ivy + Bean                                                 Mysterious Benedict Society

Ramona                                                      Narnia

Book Scavenger                                         Rising Above

Sisters Grimm                                            Judy Moody

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place        The Borrowers

All of a Kind Family                                  The Rescuers

The Princess and The Goblin                    E. Nesbit books

The Princess and Curdie                             Marguerite Henry horse books