Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What Dinner Looks Like In Our (Big) Family

 Dinner is such an important part of the day, don't you agree?  In our home, the most common questions asked by the kids are "What's for dinner?" and "What time is dinner?"  Phil and I also spend a lot of time talking about what to cook for dinner, what we need for dinner, when to start cooking, how to prep anything the day before, etc.  Dinner is definitely the highlight of the day in our house.  Because it takes up so much of our day to plan, shop for a last-minute ingredient, cook and serve a meal for nine each night, we try to make sure we all enjoy the meal together, and as slowly as possible.  

Growing up in a family of eight, I can remember my mom finally sitting down at the table, only to have the first couple of kids already finish their plates.  She or my dad would remind us that even though the meal could be eaten in a few minutes, a lot more time and love was spent creating it, and we needed to stay together at the table for a while.  I think all moms understand the sentiment.  On holidays, I can hear myself proclaim, "This took me all day to make, so you're going to slowly enjoy it!" 

Well, maybe not *that* slow.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Eamon the Jumping Bean Turns Fourteen

Our third child turned FOURTEEN!  I keep telling them to knock it off, but they just keep getting older.  Thankfully, Phil brings me flowers to ease the pain :)

Eamon asked for "football food" and an oreo cake for his birthday dinner.  The boy is still a major sports fanatic and is typically found tossing around a ball inside if he's not playing outside.  He loves to jump on the trampoline for hours and still asks Phil to go out and throw a football on the daily, and who can deny this sweet boy's request?

Friday, September 25, 2020

7QT: Wouldn't You Know It?

Wouldn't you know's FRIDAY!  And I'm linking up with the birthday girl, Kelly for Seven Quick Takes Friday. 


Wouldn't you know it...right after I posted about quitting Instagram because it had blocked all of my activity, I heard that sometimes that happens because you have a website linked in your bio.  I have this here bloggy linked in my Instagram bio, so I deleted it and VIOLA! I was able to comment/like/caption my photos and follow Jim Caviezel (which was the most important task of the week).  So now I'm in a tough spot because I really do want to quit Instagram until after the election is over, but I also want to post a few things before then...we have birthday season coming up.  What to do?  Stick to my guns and quit cold turkey, or quit after Columbus Day?


A Fridge Saga.  

Last week, my parent's fridge broke and it was a lot of scrambling for them, and sticker shock, to buy a new one that was available to take home.  They offered us their old fridge, which wasn't that old and probably only needed a part that was no longer being made, but that we could possibly find on eBay or the likes.  We hemmed and hawed and finally said no just get rid of it because our fridge was working fine, and we weren't sure if replacing that part would even work.  

Wouldn't you know it...our fridge died this week!  Seriously!  On Tuesday we got home from work and the food was warm.  We saved what we could from the freezer (I cooked the weirdest dinner that night trying to use whatever I could) and then ran out to a scratch and dent appliance store.  We found a fridge that looked great, just a couple dents on the side, but nobody sees that, and two small dents on the bottom front, but seven kids are going to add to that anyway.  We borrowed my dad's truck and picked it up (delivery was going to take three weeks!) and then the real fun began.

We live in a two-family house, on the second and third floors.  So we had to get our old fridge down the stairs and our new one up the stairs.  The old fridge was easy to remove because Phil broke it apart in pieces, but the new one was a BEAST to bring up our hundred-year-old narrow staircase.  Phil actually had to cut out a chunk of our wall in the staircase to maneuver the fridge to fit.  Then when he got it to the kitchen, we realized that we had installed an island since the last time we bought a fridge, and trying to get it around that was another major feat.  But my strong, smart husband (and helpful teen boys) figured it out and seven hours later, the fridge made it to it's home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On Instagram Quitting Me Before I Quit It

 Oh social media, you fickle beast.  Long ago, I signed up for a Facebook account and quickly realized that I was spending too much time on the site, looking up old friends, and getting caught up on everybody's life.  I deleted it and haven't looked back.  I continued blogging, as I have been doing somewhat regularly since January 2008 (!).  Then Instagram came along, and I decided to dip my toes in that muddy water.  I loved it.  I loved connecting with people who used to write blogs but had since switched over to Instagram instead.  I loved easily posting a photo and writing a short caption instead of sitting down at my computer, uploading photos from my camera or phone, and creating a long post on the blog.  I loved having some form of entertainment right at my fingertips when I was bored or waiting at a sports practice or in the bathroom (don't pretend you don't do that too!).

But with all earthly pleasures, I began to see that I was growing a bit too attached to that dopamine hit that comes along with getting likes and followers and comments.  I was pulling out my phone to scroll and read about other people's lives instead of focusing on the people right in front of me.  One day my husband said to me "I wish you looked at me the way you looked at Instagram" and I knew something had to change.  I started enforcing time frames when I allowed myself to scroll, never around the kids or husband.  I gave up Instagram for Lent a few years in a row, which was always hard but so fruitful.  I could feel myself being more patient, as my attention was not being pulled a million ways.  I felt more at peace worrying about those around me than those all over the world.  I felt more joyful being content in my own life instead of coveting other's highlight reel of a life.  

Friday, September 18, 2020

Another September, Another Diet.


Every September, Phil and I try to clean up our diet.  Partly that's because summertime involves a lot of get-togethers and vacations and ice cream.  Partly it's because we start having to dress in work clothes again, and it's crazy how everything shrunk while hanging in our closet.  But mostly it's because we both have our annual physical in October and the numbers don't lie.  I have high cholesterol and am pre-diabetic, so while I normally live a very active and healthy lifestyle, getting my blood work done every October lights a fire under my behind to drop some pounds and help those numbers.  It's like being a good student all year, but then staying up all night cramming for the test.  Is it necessary?  Probably not, but the thought of getting even one extra right answer makes it worth it.


In the past, we have done Weight Watchers, a Whole30, the Keto diet, the Zero Belly Diet, the Abs Diet, and used the LoseIt app to have a calorie deficit.  The diet choice of 2020 for us is...drumroll please...

Intermittent Fasting plus Keto

After reading this book, and studying the science behind fasting (the Catholic church had this figured out long ago!) I really buy into this approach.  We are eating in a 6-8 hour window right now, and only eating keto-approved foods during that time.  Once we get down to a healthy weight that we want to maintain, we will continue fasting but stop keto and eat more varied foods.  I can't wait for that part to get here!  Fasting for me (skipping breakfast and all snacks) isn't very hard, but eating keto is a joy killer.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

How Did We Ever Do This? (Or A Pandemic Made Us Soft)

 Every afternoon when I arrive home from work, I just want to crawl into bed and take a nap.  I am so so so tired every day.  I don't have the luxury of taking said nap, because of the eight other people living in my house who need my attention and home-cooking, but boy do I wish I could!

Before the pandemic hit, I would leave work, pick up kids from schhol/daycare, go to the gym, cook dinner, and take kids to and from sports practices and games.  I'm talking multiple events every week for multiple kids.  Now, all I have to do is come home and stay home.  I workout mostly at home now, with the kids playing all around me.  My kids don't have any weekday events yet, aside from my teens who work but can pretty much get there on their own.  Our schedule is not busy at all, and yet it's still so tiring.  When I have two or more chores on the same day, I dread it, like I have to go to the post office AND grocery shopping?  On the same day?  Who do you think I am?

I've grown soft.

How did we use to do it?  

I feel like the pandemic hit a rest button and now I have to retrain my mind, body, and soul to get back to being able to handle more things on my plate.  I recently signed up four kids for soccer, one for flag football, and another to start piano lessons again.  Besides the high school soccer player, who has practice/games 6 days a week, all of these other activities fall on Saturday mornings.  Phil and I have been trying to figure out the logistics of driving to four towns with six kids activities between the hours of 8 and noon.  It's gonna be crazy!

And yet, this was life as we knew it.  

As much as I hate the phrase "new normal" describing our pandemic time, I have to admit that we did grow accustomed to a less hectic lifestyle, and I want to protect that in some semblance moving forward.  I don't want to go back to the old crazy routines pre-pandemic, and yet I want things to go back to normal...just an easier normal?  I'm not sure if that's possible, but either way, I need to improve my stamina, both mentally and physically, in order to start taking the steps to get there.  

I think we had all grown so used to life getting slowly busier and busier, as kids added up and activities piled on.  We were like frogs happily swimming around in the hot water.  But the pandemic took the water away for awhile, and now as everything is getting restored, we are the frogs who know better than to jump in again.

For right now, we are easing in to things.  That looks like scheduling all.the.things on one weekend morning a week but leaving our weekdays pretty open.  We'll see how it goes, but if you see me looking like this, just know it's not you, it's me:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

First Day of School 2020

Grades: 12, 10, 8, 7, 4, 1, Preschool

Ages: 17, 15, 13, 12, 9, 6, 4

Fall Activities: Work, Soccer, Soccer, Soccer, Piano, Soccer, Soccer

Current Status: Everybody is learning in-school 

Motto: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

A Mom's Mental Load Burden and Burnout, or Why I Hope Schools Stay Open

I find myself waking up each day, thankful that school is still open and praying that it stays that way.  Deep in my heart, I don't really believe we are going to get through a year without another shutdown of school and the horror that was schooling from home last Spring.

Sure, there were some high notes from last Spring as we all attempted to work and learn from home, the most important one being family time and a slower pace of life.  As sports begin again this fall, I am simultaneously thrilled and panicked trying to remember how we did it with all of these kids on different teams and schedules.  Having nowhere to go for a few months was a welcome relief that grew old quickly.  Much like how scheduling ALL THE THINGS is a welcome relief right now that will grow old quickly.  We can never be content, can we?

 Phil and I have talked (and talked and talked) about the difficulties of schooling from home and I shudder just thinking about it.  Having nine of us in a small house was hard to find a quiet space for each of us.  Not just hard, it was virtually impossible.  Phil locked himself in our bedroom at our desk, JP used Maggie's room and desk, Andrew used the upstairs hallway desk, Eamon would use his bedroom, Maggie would use the little boys' bedroom, Xander would sit in the family room, and the two youngest boys did their work in the dining room.  I sat at the island in the kitchen and tried to manage the chaos.  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

7QT: September, School Starts, and Strawberry Slab Pie

Today has me feeling like, How is it September already but also, how is it only September?  
You get me.  Joining up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes!


Four of my bambinos started school this week!  

From left to right, they are in 8th grade, 4th grade, 1st grade, and 7th grade. 

Their Catholic school has opened for in-school learning every day, and for that, we are sooooo thankful.  Of course, there's social distancing and mask-wearing and it looks a lot different.  The kids are mostly sad that they can't seem to talk to their friends very much, as they can't get close and the masks make it hard to hear muffled voices. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Three Bad Toes

About a year and a half ago, Maggie started complaining about the big toe on her left foot.  She had banged it on something but it just kept bothering her.  The nail looked weird (my medical term) and we mentioned it at her next physical.  The doctor was like "Oh my!" which never bodes well, and said it looked like a wart under her nail and that we should treat it at home with wart remover.  We did that for a while, and it seemed better, but then got worse when we stopped the treatments.  Meanwhile, Maggie is our clumsiest kid (her words, not mine) and would constantly bang her BAD TOE and drop things on her BAD TOE or someone would step on her BAD TOE and she would literally fall in a heap crying about her BAD TOE.  It even became a joke in her classroom because everybody knew about the BAD TOE she would always hit and then fall down in pain, and her friends started using it as a phrase when something went wrong, like a G rated version of an expletive.  "Oh my bad toe!"  Anyway, we decided to take her to a foot doctor.  The foot doctor took one look at it, said "I see this all the time" and gave her a prescription for a cream to put on it.  I honestly can't even remember what the diagnosis ended up being, but after a while of putting the cream on her bad toe, her bad toe got better and grew up to be a good toe.  We had spent a long time with her bad toe and we like to reminisce about it from time to time and laugh at all the toe drama.

But then.

We were packing up the van to head home from our vacation in New Hampshire, and I asked Alexander to take the dog out to "do her duty" before we all got in the van.  The dog came out the door on the leash with Alexander, saw us packing up the van across the parking lot, and ran for us.  Xander ended up tripping and falling and the door closed on his toe (he was wearing flip flops).  Poor kid was bruised and banged up, and each day the toenail on his bad toe got a little darker and looser and eventually fell off.  So now Xander has the bad toe with no toenail, which he thinks is really cool, as a 9-year-old boy would.  We all like to ask him about his BAD TOE, especially Maggie who was the original owner.

Please tell us the toe drama ends there Colleen!  
Reread the title my friends.  
There were three.

And I was the unlucky recipient of that third bad toe.  I think it began when I got a pedicure in July.  I love getting two pedicures per year.  One in the spring, as soon as I can wear open-toed shoes, and one in the summer when that spring one looks terrible.  Anyway, about a week or two later, I felt pain on one of my toenails.  More like pressure.  I cut the nail, thinking maybe the corner of the nail was digging into my toe, causing pain when I saw a growth under my nail and ran to Maggie to have her officially diagnose me with BAD TOE disease.  She confirmed the case. I started the at-home wart treatment, after Dr. Phil googled it and it did seem to get better.  The pressure released and there was no pain.  But then the toenail started to get loose and I freaked out a bit.  

You're welcome for the far away shot ;)

I made an appointment with the foot doctor, who looked at it, said he wanted to cut a small piece of my toenail to get a better look at what was underneath, then stated my toenail was dead and he was going to just cut a big chunk off.  He did, and it didn't hurt, and then he scraped away some old skin and said "Well, whatever it was, it's gone!" I paid a copay for that?!?!  Haha, I was just glad it was nothing serious.  He said it probably was a wart, and that I should soak my toe, and put Vicks vapor rub on it a few nights in a row to help the nail grow back healthy.  Isn't that strange?  I guess it kills any fungus that might grow.  So now Xander and I have matchy matchy no-nail toes, which we both think is kinda cool.  Hopefully, the BAD TOE saga is like baseball strikes, and now that we've had three, we're done.