Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Xander's Stinky 11th Birthday

 Alexander Blaise turned eleven yesterday!  Eleven years since my *almost* 9 pounder came barrelling out into this world and then had to bake under the lights for five days in the hospital because of his jaundice.  Those were some rough days, but he pulled through and became the most hysterical boy ever, and his siblings all adored him.  He lived for being the center of attention:


   And recharged by sucking his thumb while pressing a tag of some sort to his upper lip...even if the tag was on a bag of garlic:

There, that's better.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Weekend Wrapup: Sad News, Sore News, Food News, and Good News


I was so so sad to hear about the death of Kendra Tierney's husband Jim, following a courageous battle with brain cancer.  I have followed Kendra's blog for years and once Jim started blogging, followed him too.  What a holy man!  Their story really touched me, and I offered up holy hours for his healing, but alas it wasn't God's Will.  Kendra seems so very strong throughout this whole process, and is an inspiration.  I will keep praying for Jim's soul and his family's devastation.  Look at all those little babies:


I don't know how to transition from that sad news, so I'll just tell you that I swam at the YMCA for approximately 4 minutes with a kickboard, and now my neck is so stiff and sore and I can't move it.  It's tough to get old.  Officially awkward transition success.


The three little guys went to Vacation Bible School for the first time ever.  They loved it!  The theme was the Knights of North Castle, and they had fun creating an outfit consisting of a Shield of Faith, Breastplate of Justice and Belt of Truth:

Friday, July 22, 2022

Week in Review: A Portuguese Feast, Some Recipes Worth Trying, and 24 Hours to the Lake

Last Saturday evening, after attending Mass, we headed to our friend's parish feast.  I never grew up going to these "feasts" but they are a fun mixture of the Portuguese culture and the Catholic faith with lots of food/drinks and games.  We met up with Fr. Jay (Xander's godfather) and bought some malassadas (Portuguese fried dough) and the kids played a few games each until they all won something.  Maggie and Xander each won a goldfish by throwing a ping pong ball into a tiny fish bowl, much to their father's dismay ("We just got rid of our stupid fish tank!") which makes it even funnier.  Why does Phil hate fish tanks so much?!?!  The little boys each won a stuffy by landing bean bags on a board in the right spots.

On Sunday morning I baked a hootenanny for the kids and cut up some strawberries as a topping and they thought I was the world's best mom.  I'm not and this recipe (I doubled it and baked it in an 8 x 10 dish) is ridiculously easy.  I ignored the grapefruit and rosemary instructions as well.  Wow, I am not great at following recipes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Working Girl

 Last night, when my body seemed to wake after each 90 minute sleep cycle, I found myself thinking about my past jobs and I thought it might make an interesting blog post.  I would LOVE to read about all the different positions you've held, so let me know if you write a blog post or leave me your list in the comments.  I'm not sure the best way to organize my jobs, but maybe by age would be the easiest.  Here goes:

Age 12 - 23: Maggie's Ice Cream (summers)

My parents owned multiple homemade ice cream shops on Cape Cod, and all six of us kids had to work there.  Up until age 12 we helped out by wiping tables, filling napkins and spoons, washing buckets, making waffle cones or whatever was age appropriate in return for an ice cream cone as payment.  At twelve we started making real money and started serving customers.  By 16 we were managers and could open and close the store each day, reconcile the register, create the schedule for the workers, order inventory, and keep the store running smoothly for my parents who made the *world's best* ice cream.  That job was a lot of work but so much fun and we had so many friends and Irish college students that worked with us and became like family.

Age 15 - 18: Babysitter (weekends)

During the school year, and once I could drive, I babysat on Friday nights for a family that had one sweet little girl and then eventually had a second girl before I went off to college.  I would come over to their house around 6:30 and the mom would be putting the girl to bed, so all I had to do was sit there and do my homework.  I would also clean any dishes they had left in the sink, which made me babysitter extraordinaire to them.  They would come home late and slightly tipsy and hand me a wad of cash and it was basically the easiest job ever.  Oh I also babysat for a few other families here and there, one being *name dropping moment* Bob Villa's daughter.  He picked me up at my house, and told me that we needed to fix our brick walkway, which was embarrassing because my dad was also a builder!

Age 16: Christmas Tree Shop Cashier

During the holiday rush, and in between volleyball and track seasons, I worked at the Christmas Tree Shop as a cashier and kinda hated it.  I was shocked to get "let go" once the holiday season was over, as I didn't know that it was a seasonal position when I was hired.

Monday, July 18, 2022

A Week at Lake Winnipesaukee: The Rest of the Week

On Wednesday night, JP came to join us after dropping off Andrew and Eamon to their cousins house to spend some time with them.  We went to Meredith, NH on Thursday and did the sculpture walk around town.  Each summer the artists and sculptures change, so it's fun to do every year.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Week at Lake Winnipesaukee: Squam Lake

On Wednesday we drove up to Holderness, New Hampshire to visit the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center which was really fun and interesting for my science and animal lovers.  It's basically a half-mile nature walk with wild animal exhibits and opportunities to learn more about nature.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and though the ticket price is pretty expensive, we were able to get a great discount because we have a membership to our local zoo that is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  This membership is also how we go to the Boston Museum of Science on the cheap.  We sunscreened and bugsprayed and headed out to explore:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Week at Lake Winnipesaukee: July 4th, A Great Swimsuit and Good News

I know that I take too many photos, but this blog turns into our family's scrapbook from year to year and what's a scrapbook without pictures?  We took the week of July 4th off from work and headed up to Laconia, New Hampshire with our youngest four kids.  Our oldest three teens stayed home for the first few days to work through the holiday weekend (busy ice cream time!) and then came up to New Hampshire.  We stay at a condo right near Weirs Beach that has a great pool, tennis courts, a small playground, a pond with frogs and many fun places in close proximity.  The kids love it there, and so do we.

On Monday, we stayed close to the condo because the lake was crazy busy for July 4th!

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

My Adulting To Do List for the (rest of the) Summer

Last week I made a Summer Bucket List with the kids, filled with fun activities to check off before school starts in the fall. Things like Ice Cream For Dinner, Big Wave Beach, Funspot in New Hampshire. It got me thinking that I should make my own list of things I should get done this summer. Not necessarily fun things, but activities I always think "I need to get around to that soon" and what better way to be held accountable than by posting it here. So without further ado, here's my To Do's...

1) Evaluate our life insurance options.

We recently received our annual statements from our life insurance policies with the Knights of Columbus, and we thought, wow, we are paying a lot each month for plans that aren't that big. We need to start getting term life insurance quotes and a friend recommended this insurance company. We also need to think about increasing the amount of our policies as well. I want to make sure I am worth more alive than dead though, so not too much ;)

2) Make a new budget.

Each year my contract renews in July, and our health insurance rate increases, so I like to look at our budget and update things. I just use an excel spreadsheet and I recommend reading this Dave Ramsey book if you don't know where to start with finances. Even though we never followed his plan per se, we definitely agree with paying off debt and living simply to do so. I'll be making my kids read it :)

3) Figure out a system for our usernames and passwords.

Anyone have any advice on a secure way to store and share this info between Phil and I besides writing them down in a book (our current system)?

4) Eat healthier.

This one totally has to do with the fact that we just got back from vacation and though we were super active each day, we indulged in all the treats we wanted. Now I just feel gross and like I need to grow up and eat like the middle-aged mom that I am, and not like a college student. I started a Shake (breakfast) Soup (lunch) and Salad (dinner) plan this week, and I do feel much better already.

5) Date nights once a week.

Gotta keep the marriage a priority and have some fun!! I buy restaurant gift certificates for half price or we go for a bike ride or watch a movie or grocery shop together or whatever floats our boat that week.

6) One Fun Thing a Day with the little kids.

Self explanatory, but we just try to make sure they are having fun, being active, learning something new, not stuck inside all day and still get excited about the little things in life. It doesn't have to cost anything (it almost never does) but we raised the first four kids this way, and I like the way they turned out :)

7) Organize the school stuff.

Make sure everyone has their summer reading books. Donate any uniforms back to their schools for other students in need. Buy new uniform pants and boat shoes. Make sure all three (!) high schoolers have the textbooks they need for next year and sell any old ones. Buy school supplies, which requires a lot of organizing lists and seeing what we have and what we need. It's honestly one of the worst parts of having seven children, but as they get older they take on more of that responsibility.

I could go on and on with things that need to get done, but this list seems doable for the rest of the summer, and not too overwhelming. Any summer projects you are working on or keep putting off??

Monday, July 11, 2022

Altar Boy Boot Camp

Ten years ago we became members of our current parish and our boys have been participating in the Altar Boy Boot Camp ever since.  There have been three different pastors during our time here, and there were a couple of pandemic summers when it didn't happen, but ABBC was back this summer!  It's such a great program that encourages the young men to serve at Mass and fosters a faithful fraternity. 

 Note: Don't worry, there is a Sacristan Boot Camp as well, for the girls in the parish, and Maggie is part of that.  I don't want to debate the pros and cons of male only altar serving, but I will say that our parish is thriving and full of boys who want to serve (and girls who want to sacristan) and I think that having the groups separated by gender is key to that success.  Other parishes around here that have boys and girls who can altar serve seem to have much smaller numbers and the boys tend to drop out quickly once the girls take over.

The three-day boot camp starts with Mass each morning, trains the newest boys who have received First Communion (including my Declan this year), and includes lots of food and sports and fun.  The little guys look up to the big teenagers who seem so cool and the big guys are so helpful and welcoming to the newest ones.  On the third day of the boot camp, the boys go on a field trip.  This year they went to a beautiful local church (our old parish!) and then to an escape room.

The boys are encouraged to serve as often as they can, even when they are not scheduled for a particular Mass.  This past Sunday at the 8am Mass, there were nine servers who showed up and everybody gets a job and a seat on the altar.  It's a wonderful sight to see.  My boys serve every Mass they go to until they graduate high school :) 

It is absolutely ADORABLE watching the newest servers try their best on the altar each Sunday, while making understandable mistakes and having the older altar servers help lead them through their duties.  My mama's heart is so full having five servers with one more to go!

God Bless these youth who willingly serve others and aren't afraid to show their faith, and for the priests who make it fun and recognize the value of getting them involved while they are young.