Monday, November 29, 2021

The One in Which Breathing Makes Me Nervous

 Do you want to get a glimpse inside a neurotic brain?


Well then settle back because you are in the right place.

Back when COVID started, the government was handing out money for companies to buy supplies and some of the hot ticket items were air purifiers.  As the Business Manager at my previous job, I bought a LOT of air purifiers and then submitted the receipt for reimbursement from one of the various relief grants.  Due to the high demand of these items, and the fact that the government was basically picking up the bill, the price on air purifiers went way up.

Personally, I wanted one for our home but knew it was not the right time to buy (Econ 101 taught me to buy when supply is high and demand is low and never the other way around).  So I waited and waited and breathed in disgusting potentially polluted COVID air all the while.

This past Columbus Day weekend, we went up to my brother’s house in New Hampshire, where the air is clean and mountain pure, but even he had an air purifier going 24/7.  My brother is an ER doctor and so I figured if he thought an air purifier was a good idea, I better follow suit.

But then life got busy and I forgot that I desperately wanted and needed an air purifier.  Sometimes this forgetfulness is a very good thing when it comes to my bank account.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Week in Review: Thanksgiving Parade at Plymouth Rock, All My Lovies Are Home, and Christmas Season Starts on Black Friday

 Tomorrow is Turkey Day so I wanted to wrap up this short week today!


We went to America's Thanksgiving Parade on not the Macy's Parade...the Plymouth, MA parade!  We have so much history here and my kids totally take it for granted so I am trying to do a better job at explaining our history to them as we travel around New England.

Whew that was a lot of photos!  And I deleted more than I posted.  You're welcome :)  


One funny thing that happened was that the Mayflower float got caught in the power lines...something that definitely wouldn't have happened to the real Pilgrims.

Ummm, what do we do?

Act like we're in 1620?

Sounds good.  Ignore and move on!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Gifts We Gave, Got, Loved and Sought in 2021

These are the gifts we actually sought and bought over this past year.  I hope this list is helpful to you if you are looking for any gift ideas and inspiration.  I also have a Gift guide tab and Book tab (above) from years past.

 I have included affiliate links, so that when you order something by clicking on my link first (even if you buy other items and not the item listed), I receive a small kickback at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting our family in this way if you are able :)

Also, I always shop online through Rakuten which will send you a check in the mail as your shopping sprees add up.  Really!

Young Adults and Teens:

 a football 

Electric Toothbrush

Scratch Tickets

Phil Robertson's book

Flaming/Spicy/Kill Your Tastebuds kind of snacks

Carhartt hoodies

 Football cards

Sweat shorts 

Kohls gift card

A book about selling sports cards 

A ukelele

Redskins sweatshirt and masks 

 Rugged Rosary 

miraculous medal for Guys

football trainer throwing net

An XBox game

 A pretty miraculous medal for ladies/girls

 A Kindle and case

Girl's clothes

For Women:

Cape Cod bracelet

A Juicer

Talbots blouse

Yeti coffee mug

A soft Irish blanket (similar)

A double tiered Fruit Basket

My favorite coffee mugs

Chirp wheels

Sperry saltwater boots 

Cozy slippers


Softest blanket 

Pretty flameless candles

Comfy joggers

For Kids and Tweens:

Talking Robot

Light Up Sneakers

Pokemon Handbook and Pokemon cards

Paint by Sticker Books

Shooting Game

Guiness World Records 2022

Dog Activity Book

Boy Clothes: cargo joggerstan twill joggersExplore Outside shirtultra soft long sleeve shirtbasketball shirt

Whoopie Cushion

Charlotte's Web

 Youth football

Quaranteen shirt

 A cake decorating kit 

 Gabb phone 

Saints Around the World book

A journal for Catholic girls

Tervis cups with lids

Markers and Twistable Crayons

Green Ember books

Classic Bible Comics

Swim shorts and Rashguards

 IQ book

  a joke book 

Victor Borge DVD

fitness watch

juggling set

Sleeping Queens game (big hit!) 

For Men:

Yeti coffee mug

San Damiano Cross

Bourbon Whiskey Coffee 

Glasses created on Shutterfly 

Peter Kreeft's newest book

No Price Too High

Nespresso machine and pods

 Headphones to wear so your wife can sleep 

A Hidden Life DVD

Family Gifts:

 Santa chocolates

 Matching pajamas

 Sock Religious socks 

Water Tumblers

Heating Pad

New tablecloth

Friday, November 19, 2021

Week in Review: A Play, Pee Charts, Countdown to College Break, and a Husband Brag


Our high school put on The Diary of Anne Frank last weekend, and Andrew (age 17) was in it!

Ok fine, it was only a Voice-over role, but it was a step up (or maybe down) from playing a dead body in Arsenic and Old Lace in 2019.  If there's a way to be in a play without reeeeeallllly being in a play, Andrew is all over that role.


Ok I need some mom advice.  Embarrasing because you'd think I would know what I'm doing at this point in motherhood, but God keeps me humble by giving me special children.  Brendan is five and the best little guy in the whole world but he just can not stop wetting his pullup at night.  He gets sad about it and makes his own "Pee Charts" to try and motivate his bladder, but he physically can not seem to wake up enough to know he has to go to the bathroom.  Brendan is such a momma's boy and wants to please me above anything else in life, and so I don't want him to feel like he's letting me down, but look what he wrote:

"Brendan's Pee Chart.  If I don't pee 10 times my mom will be :)"

How sweet is he?  And how can I help him?  Advice please!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Adventy Things

Every year Advent seems to sneak up on me.  Between Halloween, All Saints Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving and Maggie's birthday, I'm always like "Oh right! Advent!"  We don't even "do" much as a family for Advent besides lighting the Advent wreath and reading Advent-y books and decorating for Christmas.  Some years when I aim to be more on the ball (not this year - ha!) I try to refrain from sweets and play the Wisemen Adventures with the little kids.  But for now, here's what we love about Advent:


Praying the St. Andrew Novena (from Nov. 30 through Christmas Eve):

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.


Having a little fun countdown to Christmas with an Adult Advent Calendar and a Countdown Calendar for Kids and I buy each kid a cheap chocolate calendar because, some traditions can't be stopped for fear of rioting children.


This is our Celtic Advent Wreath, although instead of flowers, I now like to put a statue of Our Lady pregnant with the Christ child to remind us of the waiting season that we are in.  We currently use these Battery operated Candles but in the past have made our own or just bought simple ones (tip - buy two packs so you're good for awhile, or in case one breaks or melts).


Cooking from the Vatican Christmas Cookbook to bring a taste of Rome and other countries to our humble home.


Why have reindeer and candy canes decorating your front lawn when you can have the real Reason for the Season?  (I have nothing against reindeer and candy canes in addition!)  This Beautiful Nativity looks great in the daylight and at night.


We read Advent-y books.  My book club is wrapping up Gaze Upon Jesus, which has been a nice Advent journey book for group discussions.  I want to get my hands on this one next (hint, hint Phil).  Maggie (age 13) recently read and loved Amon's Adventure which is an Easter story, but the author has FOUR books for Advent too!  Guess what she's getting for her birthday? (shhhh don't tell!)  The little ones love to read and reread The First Christmas, The Spider Who Saved Christmas, and The Grumpy Old Ox.


We celebrate St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6 with some chocolates and maybe a small gift in their stocking.  Holiday pajamas are great to give on this day so that they can wear them for all of December.  And you know what they say, "The family that wears matching pj' forced to sit for a family picture".


Finally, we eat Mexican food and have Choco Tacos for dessert on Dec. 12th, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

And that's all I got!  I hope these simple family traditions not only bring us happy memories but truly teach my kids the great joy that can be found in anticipating and preparing to meet their Savior.  What are your favorite family Advent traditions?

Friday, November 12, 2021

Week in Review: Veterans and MRIs and Crafts

It feels weird that Seven Quick Takes is officially over.  What do I do with my Friday posts now?  I guess I can call these posts our Week in Review since that's basically what my 7QT posts were.  So here we go!


Happy belated Veteran's Day!  We had a cute parade go down our street, and as my little kids shouted "THANK YOU!" to all the veterans and first responders, I teared up a bit.  It takes a special person to sacrifice like that.  I am extra thankful for the veterans in my own family - my dad (a Veteran of both the Irish Army and American Army), my brother Sean, my brother-in-law Bill and my father-in-law.  Plus my bonus first responder son, JP.  I love you all.


I had to chuckle at the "banning" of the Elf on the Shelf as a gift to tired parents.  I never allowed that creepy elf in our house, but we used to do the wise men adventures (we would move the wise men around the house as they journeyed to find Christ) and there were quite a few mornings of disappointed children because the wise men didn't journey the night before.  Those wise men and the Tooth Fairy must be in cahoots in my home.  Get it together!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Motherly Advice That Nobody Asked For: Keep it Tidy and Keep it Together

After a fun family weekend a couple of weeks ago, I overheard Maggie (13) asking Brendan (5) what his favorite part of the weekend was.  He replied “Cleaning out the toy room with Mom and Dad.  I just really like when things are clean.”

I smiled and mentally moved him up to the top of my favorite child list.

{Spoiler alert - he didn’t last long at the top when he asked me at Mass last Sunday if I was pregnant.  Ummmm, no and I’ll never wear that dress again.}

But back to cleaning and organizing.  They really are the most satisfying chores, something I put off for too long and then once it’s over I wonder why I didn’t tackle that sooner.  The benefits are so plentiful after an area is neat and tidy.  

I smile every time I see it, so it brings joy.  

I feel like I can breathe easier, so it radiates peace.  

I know what I have and can find everything with ease, so it brings contentment.  

I don’t need to hide that messy area any longer, so it invites hospitality. 

Whenever I feel comparison stealing my joy, like I *need* a new outfit or car or house, I find a deep cleaning and organizing brings me right back to being grateful for what I have.  My dad says that a clean car rides better, and he’s totally right.  Taking care of our blessings brings happiness.  And then that joy overflows to others and we can give of our self and time and talents more freely when the environment is tidy.  

Physical clutter creates mental clutter, whether we realize it or not, and our families feel the same.  Even my littlest guy likes the way he feels in a clean house.  As Phil always reminds our kids “There’s no maid that lives here” so we all have to chip in and help out.  We try to make it as fun as possible by playing music or timing certain areas, or promising a fun activity when the work is complete.  Honestly, the job usually takes way less time than I think it will and I’ve never missed anything I’ve given away.

Two books helped me a lot in keeping a home, besides learning from my parents’ examples and my own mistakes:

Sink Reflections and The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up

I think if I were asked to give advice to young families, this would be on a very short list - a tidy house makes a happy home.  Don’t listen to those cute quotes about how dishes can wait but babies don’t keep, or a messy house means you’re making memories, etc.  Nobody likes to live in chaos.  Your home does not have to be perfect to raise a wonderful family, it’s just about keeping it clean and cozy and peaceful for your family to be able to bloom contentedly. And remember, bleach is cheap but peace of mind is priceless :)