Friday, April 26, 2019

Happy Easter from the Color Coordinated Martins

Happy Easter SEASON everybody!  I'm so thankful it's not just a day because life has been go-go-go lately and I feel like Easter didn't get as much attention as it deserved.  We went with a blue and yellow and gray color scheme this year, mostly because the elementary school boys wear gray pants with their uniform and I didn't have to buy any!

I look about 5 months pregnant in these pictures and I'm not...soooo the diet will begin.....eventually!  Ugh, it's tough to turn 40, I feel like I'm gaining weight so easily lately, even with all the exercise I do.  I know abs begin in the kitchen and blah blah blah I love food too much.  OK, enough vanity, back to the big day!

For the first time as a family, we attended the Easter Vigil and survived!  We just *had* to go to the Vigil this year because my brother-in-law became Catholic!  We always said he was the most Catholic non-Catholic we knew (attending Mass religiously, going to Adoration, raising his kids in the faith, sending his kids to Catholic school - he has one in elementary, high school and FUS) but it just took God's timing to get him into the church.  We were so excited!!  My Andrew was especially so, because he's been telling us for years that he wanted Uncle Adam to be his Confirmation sponsor, but couldn't ask him since he wasn't Catholic.  Now he can (already did, actually!) and his Confirmation is next year.  See, God's timing was perfect as usual!

Look at those smiles on my sister and her newly Catholic husband.  The Vigil started at 7:30 pm and ended at 9:30 pm, so we went home and put the kids to bed and all slept in a little the next morning.  By slept in, I mean 7 am instead of 6 am, so yeah, not much!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A List of Lessons from A Mom of Seven

If I was a beautiful young mom, stopping by this blog to gather some wisdom/warnings/stories from a tired seasoned older mom, what would I want to know?  
What could I tell you about having a big family that may or may not someday be in your future?  
Let me gather my thoughts...

Momma said they'd be days like this, they'd be days like this, momma said.

Don't sweat the small stuff, keep your eyes on the prize.  
Your toddler won't eat veggies today?  Give him extra fruit and try again tomorrow.  I once heard a nutritionist say that you should view healthy eating in week-long increments.  So, over the course of a week, did I get enough protein, veggies, fruits, dairy, whole grains, etc.  
Your stubborn three year old won't poop in the potty?  She will one day.  Until then, just give lots of chances, and I've been known to use a suppository once in their life to get things moving.  The next time, I just mention the "medicine" and they don't want it, and everything moves better on it's own :)  
Your teen gets a bad grade on a quiz?  Tell your inner geek to relax.  It's one tiny quiz in the grand scheme of things.  
Your middle schooler is fighting with her friends?  Time heals all wounds.  She'll be ok, learn from it, grow from it, and so will you.  

Every stage has a season, and like a season, this too shall pass.

We swear by good sleep routines.  Kids go to bed early, wake early, nap early.  Kids who sleep well are well-behaved, smarter and better looking (just kidding about that last part!)

When a child is crying...
Hug them
Listen to them
Feed them
Make them do something active
Distract them
Go outside for some Vitamin D
Put them to bed

Learn your kid's love language and personality type/temperment.  They may all be your kids, but they are all so different!

Having only little ones is soooooo hard.  It's draining and you're on duty every minute that they are awake.  They are loud and whiny and noisy (did I already say that?) but so much fun!  What would we do without them?  Boring.  Try to plan nap times and me time so you don't get a bit blue by the fact that EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMETHING FROM YOU ALL THE TIME.  Ahem.

It gets easier.
(It does, I promise!)

Train them young.  If you want fully-functioning adult children someday, then start now.  Chores should be expected in family life, if they've always done them, they won't think it's strange.  Having big kids (like elementary school aged kids) is super helpful to a mom with littles.  But!  Don't rely on them too much - they are not the parents and deserve a childhood too.  We basically expect our big ones to help out with small household chores and occasionally babysit when they get old enough.  Mostly they are just great for playing with each other, a skill I lack.  

Keep the house tidy.  I know they say dishes can wait, blah blah, but everyone's happier in a tidy clean house.

When Teenagers are Moody:
(See above list for crying children.)

Don't feel like you have to make grand plans to get individual time with each child.  Some of our best talks happen in the car, or grocery shopping, or taking the dog for a walk.  Treats and vacations are wonderful, but kids need our love and attention more.  That being said, making a favorite meal or buying a favorite snack for a certain someone goes a long way.  You have to buy food and cook anyway, but that extra thoughtful step can really brighten someone's day.

Let little kids be little.  Keep their innocence for as long as you can, there will plenty of years for them to do big kid activities, but they will never be this age again.  

Let big kids be big.  Don't hold them back because you're not ready to let go a bit.  Give them some freedom and let them discover how much they still need you :)

Raise your family with faith and humor.  Be joyful in your vocation and your kids will be happy in theirs.

Remember to celebrate every milestone as if it's the first child.  Sometimes you gotta fake it until you make it, but when the 6th kid graduates 8th grade, it's just as exciting for him as when the first kid graduated.  It's old hat to you, but look at it with fresh eyes from their perspective.

Don't get a pet "for the kids".  Get a pet if YOU want a pet.  Learned this one the hard way :)

Praise them often.  Instill confidence and courage.  Celebrate not only their accomplishments, but also their work ethic to get there.  Telling a kid they worked really hard is a better life lesson than telling them they are so smart.  Make sure they know what's important in life - manners, kindness, faith, love, family - getting into Heaven is the goal, not getting into college.  

Raise kids to be the kind of adults you want to hang out with.

Know that the longer I mother my children, the more I realize what I don't know.  I was honestly the perfect mom before I had children, ha!  I really shouldn't be giving advice at all!  So trust your gut and know that God created YOU to be the parent of YOUR kids and He doesn't make mistakes.  You got this :)

Friday, April 5, 2019

Weeknight Meals for Busy Families

Every day when my kids get home from school they ask "What's for dinner?" and every day I want to be like:


But, I don't because kids want to eat all the time (who knew? every mother every where, that's who.) and it's my job to feed them.  I know you're all in the same boat, as it's probably my number one request I get from you guys - to list out some meal ideas that we use to feed a gaggle of kids fast on nights when we are all coming home from work/school and running back out to meetings/church/sports events.  I'll admit, it's a little embarrassing to write out some of these simple meals, but I'm nothing if not honest, so I'll eat the humble pie and let you in on our easy peasy tried and true weeknight meals.

Some rules to start:

1) We always keep fruit and veggies in the house to act as sides to these meals.  Think apple slices, baby carrots, cucumbers, frozen corn, frozen peas, grapes, lettuce, bananas, you get it.

2)  We also keep starchy sides on hand.  I'm talking potatoes, rice, pasta, frozen french fries, and chips (I know, humble city over here!)

3) We do NOT serve milk with dinner.  We have found that some of our kids would fill up on milk and not eat the main course.  So they get water with dinner and a cup of milk later in the evening before bed.

4) We serve what we serve and that's it.  If they do not want to eat it, they don't have to (they'll always eat something on their plate) but they don't get anything else to eat.  There are some items that toddlers just have a hard time eating, and I will make them a turkey hot dog or chicken nuggets instead, but not as a reward for not eating the first meal.  They get that as their first meal.

5) We eat a lot of protein (six growing boys!) and we do not have any food allergies, thank you Baby Jesus, so please don't  be offended by our gluten-dairy-animal-egg-filled choices.  I'm just a basic home cooking mom.

Without further ado, here's our weeknight meal rotations:

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Declan Kolbe is Five

We awoke yesterday morning to Declan running into our bedroom proclaiming "I'm five years old now!"  We hugged him and asked him if he felt bigger and he said "No, yesterday i couldn't reach the spot on the wall, and today I still can't reach it."  Well, can't argue with that logic!  He also reminded me that I forgot to put him in a box last night.  Before you call child services, I always threaten to put my kids into a box so that they can't grow up.  Will they have to go to therapy about it one day?  Probably.  Just add it to the list of ways mom loved us too much ;)

We all got ready for work/school and headed out the door to Dunkin Donuts, because Lenten fasts don't apply on family birthdays, duh.  All of the other kids asked for a double chocolate donut (well, Brendan ordered a "hmmmmmm, hmmmmmm, bubble chocolate!", same dif) and Declan asked for "you know that donut with the thing on top of the hole that I saw that time we got the sausage and egg sandwich thingy on a bagel and you said I couldn't get the donut that I wanted?"  Huh??  I decided to take Declan in with me so he could pick.  When we got to the counter, I told the girl working that it was his birthday, and she told all of the other workers and they all said happy birthday which made my shy little man very quiet.  Somebody yelled out that he should get a free donut, and they asked him which one he wanted.  He hemmed and hawed while I ordered the other kid's donuts and some munchkins for his preschool class, and decided on this one:

Of course.

I dropped them all off at school and he happily ran in with his munchkins.  He ended up bringing home the uneaten munchkins, and so generously shared them with all of us for an afternoon snack.  Declan has been telling us for weeks that he wanted Wendy's for dinner on his birthday, followed by a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ice cream.  When I picked up Wendy's for a quick dinner last week, he got very sad and said "Does this mean I can't have Wendy's on my birthday?"  What a sweetheart!  He wanted to eat IN Wendy's so we all (minus JP who was studying for a Chemistry test) went out to celebrate in style:

Monday, April 1, 2019

Unplanned, The Movie That Can Not Be Unseen (a review)

On Saturday, Phil and I and our friend, who's a priest, all went to see the movie Unplanned.  This movie is based on the book by Abby Johnson with the same title.  

I already knew Abby Johnson's story, as I think most pro-lifers do.  Abby is sort of a hero of our times in the pro-life movement.  She was the Clinic Director of Planned Parenthood down in Texas, and she switched sides after seeing an ultrasound-guided abortion.  How did a little girl, raised in a pro-life family, become not only pro-choice, but eventually Planned Parenthood's Employee of the Year?

Simply put, she believed the lies.