Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Andrew with the Misspelled Middle Name, Born on the Feast of St. Francis

 It's birthday season in the Martin family, and today we celebrate Andrew's 19th birthday!

Andrew was due on October 9th and we thought it would be so funny if he was born two days late on his dad's birthday, especially since JP was born on his mom's birthday.  We didn't know his gender before birth and had decided on Andrew Philip for a boy or Emily Margaret for a girl.  That pregnancy has a few memories that stick out for me, the first being that my younger sister got engaged and asked me to be her matron of honor at her wedding nine months later.  I looked at Phil and said "Well we just can't get pregnant this month or I'll be giving birth at the wedding!"  Hardeeharhar guess who got pregnant that month?  So this is what I looked like at my sister's wedding:

I was very thankful to still be pregnant and not have to miss the wedding, and I danced like crazy that night and ended up giving birth nine days later.  Also during Andrew's pregnancy, my dad's brother passed away whose name was Padraig but everyone called him Poric, and that's how he signed his name.  We decided to honor my uncle by naming the baby Andrew (which is my grandfather's name) Padraig.  When he was born, I was so concerned with getting the spelling of Poric/Padraig correct that I didn't even realize he was born on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.  I felt so bad to have missed the naming opportunity of including Francis in his name that I spent the next years convincing Andrew to take Francis as his confirmation name.  He listened and is Andrew Pauric (spelled wrong) Francis.  And now he goes to Franciscan University where they celebrate St. Francis's feast day each year (I think classes are cancelled?) which means Andrew's birthday will be extra fun.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Week in Review: Big Kids, Big Schedules and Advice for a Care Package

Hello!  Not much to say this week, but here's the look back in the rearview mirror.

I felt really overwhelmed this week when trying to figure out the kids' schedules.  On Wednesday alone, we had a volleyball game, soccer game, basketball clinic, soccer practice and swim team practice.  Tuesday had been the same, less the basketball clinic.  It's exhausting and we do the bare minimum when it comes to kids being involved in sports - one sport per kid per season, no travel teams - but it all adds up quickly.  Technically, Declan is playing soccer and now has a once a week basketball clinic at his school because they are trying to prepare a team for the CYO season.  Thankfully, a friend whose son is on the same soccer team as Declan offered to bring him from basketball to soccer for me, which is a huge help.  The fall is just always crazy, and it's nobody's fault but a young Colleen and amorous Phil, so I am complaining in the mirror.

Does anybody know if Elisabeth Frost's blog is still functioning?  I can't seem to get on her website anymore and I don't see her commenting here and I hope everything is ok.

Today at work, my one big annual report is due and I have everything completed on my side but I am waiting for the Town to send me their numbers and it is killing my Type A Goodie Two Shoes Top of the Class Teacher's Pet self.  I think I'm going to have to turn it in late!

Tomorrow we will be mailing out a birthday package for our freshman in college and I need to shop for some "fillers" today.  And tips on snacks or dorm room ideas would be helpful!

There is a hotel verrrrrry close to our house that will now be hosting illegal immigrants.  The story is here and people are upset and I have lots of mixed feelings about it, especially as I am the daughter of an immigrant and feel so very badly for what is happening in Haiti.

Some photos from the week:

Favorite daughter


Phil and I tried a new Indian restaurant and it was DELICIOUS

Police dog visiting the kids school

Brendan sees me rolling out my back and has to join in

Rainy Saturday mornings = soccer canceled = pancakes!

Cousins and scoopers

Andrew and friends after a game

Have a wonderful September-October weekend everyone.  Hug your families tight :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Eamon: From a Difficult Bambino to the Easiest Seventeen Year Old

Our little meatball turns SEVENTEEN today.  

Eamon was one of the hardest babies, having colic and a mother who became pregnant/sick/exhausted when he was only five months old.  His whole babyhood is a crying blur to be honest, with lots of puke, from both of us.  Have you ever been in public and heard a baby cry and thought "Thank God that isn't my kid!  That cry is piercing my soul!" except it IS your kid and he does it almost nonstop until his first birthday.    


Phil has a theory that hard babies make easy kids, and Eamon really did turn into the bestest little guy anyone could ask for.  

Eamon has always been so funny, so easy to smile and laugh, always has a little twinkle in his eye, is constantly up to something, very witty and charming and so much fun to be around.  He has the winning combination of natural intelligence and a strong work ethic that result in amazing grades.  He gets along with all of his siblings and is the life of the Martin Family party.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Week in Review: Brace Face, Not a Race, and College Grace

Last Friday, instead of going for a walk during my lunch break, I went and got a pedicure.  It included a ten minute massage and boy oh boy did it feel wonderful!  I texted Phil this picture and he was happy to learn that he was off the hook for rubbing my feet that night.  Yes I know that I am a lucky wifey.

We started being able to wear jeans on Fridays, along with a $2.50 donation to a charity, and these little things are soooo exciting.  I wake up extra happy every Friday knowing I get to wear jeans to work.  I'd rather wear jeans and stay home, but I haven't figured out how to identify as a retired lady yet ;)

Andrew texted us from college asking us to send him his Rugged Rosary that he forgot to pack, and yet another reason to love Franciscan!  Just picturing a bunch of college guys kneeling and praying the rosary together makes me so happy.

Phil's parents and his sister, Sister Denise, came to visit this past weekend, and I only have this photo of the boys playing with the new game Nana and Gramps bought for Brendan's birthday gift.  It's called Rubik's Race and they have been playing it nonstop!  They took the kids to the Whaling Museum while Phil and I worked at the ice cream shop for part of the day, and we had a nice time spent visiting with them.

Our Caramel Apple Parfait was a delicious hit!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Week in Review: Fall Sports, Fall Recipes and Fall Storms

My prayers go out to anyone that will be affected by Hurricane Lee, while I am writing this we are expecting a Tropical Storm here in south coast Massachusetts.  This week was full of gross humid sticky wet disgusting weather and I am ready for that crisp air that comes with fall. But there's no rainbows without the rain, and Phil and I saw this little gift on our way out of a workout class:

Let's look back at the week, shall we?

Fall sports are in full swing here.  Brendan played in his first soccer game, then had his first practice a few days later.  Next time, they should do that in reverse, as they got killed the first game.  A kid on the other team looked at least a year older than he should have been, with the height and skill to show for it.  Brendan's soccer league is a recreational league and they group kids by grades, which stinks because kids can be older or younger for a grade, or stay back and be much older.  It can be very frustrating to watch a team destroy us based on the talent of one older kid, and the coach keeps him in as striker and doesn't sit him out.  But Brendan's only barely 7 and I know in the end these things don't matter *she tries to convince her overly competitive self*.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A Very Bad First World Problems Kind of Morning

Every workday, my alarm goes off at 7:01 am and I need to be out the door at 7:15 am in order to have time to stop for coffee at Cumbie's (now $1.38 for a large) and get the kids to school at 7:30 (which is the first minute when you don't have to pay for morning extended care) and then drive to my work which starts at 8 am.  

Could I get up earlier to start my day in a more calm manner?  Should I get up earlier to get myself ready without running around like a chicken with my head cut off?  Yes and yes.  But you know, sleep is the best part of my day.  That sounds borderline depressing but I swear I just love to sleep.

Last Friday morning, I was woken up by Phil getting his clothes out of the closet at 6:40, which is fine.  I mean it is his room too, though cranky-woken-up-Colleen doesn't usually think so kindly or clearly.  I somehow fell into a deep sleep between that and 7:01 am when my alarm went off.  I get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, but somebody is using it.  I knock and wait and finally Maggie comes out.  Maggie thinks she is the third parent in our household and therefore uses the main bathroom downstairs and not the kid bathroom upstairs (and who can blame her when she has to share it with six boys?).  She comes out and I go in and realize there's no toilet paper so I yell at her to get more.  She throws some in and I can finally use the bathroom.  

Friday, September 8, 2023

Week in Review: Life's a Beach and the Kids are Alright

 What a HOT week we have had here in Massachusetts.  I think yesterday was the hottest day of the whole summer and of course, it happened after everybody went back to school.  The poor kids are sweating (and poor teachers too) because air conditioning is non-existent in schools around here.  Due to the heat yesterday, the kids got a half day, so we took advantage and went to the beach:

I did not get into the water because warm end of the summer water = jellyfish but these boys are not scared and fared well.  Brendan did see a moon jellyfish.

Last Friday, I took the day off from work and got a lot of errands done which always feel great to check off before the long weekend.  Phil and I snuck away for dinner with a friend then we stayed and listened to music for awhile (notice the jackets, this was right before the heat wave!)

On Saturday morning we went for a 6 mile run, our longest and slowest of the summer, worked at The Cottage all day and attended the birthday party of a friend that evening, smelling like waffle cones which many people commented on as I hugged them.  Hey, there's worse things to smell like :)  

On Sunday we went to the beach with a few friends after a day at the ice cream shop, and it was beautiful:

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

College in Three Years, An Honest Look

I had a lovely reader (hi Jennifer!) notice that JP is in his senior year of college which is also his 3rd year of college, and said: 

I would love to hear more about how he did it and how it is going doing it like that. Do you think your other kids will try to do the same?

So how did JP graduate high school at age 18 and how will he graduate from college at age 21?  

Short answer - he's a smarty pants.  He went through his whole childhood with a book in hand:  

Long answer - in high school, JP completed seven AP courses, three in his Junior year and four in his Senior year.  AP "Advanced Placement" courses are college-level courses taught in high school.  When I was in high school, we did not have AP classes, but we had Honors classes and then students had the option to take the AP Exam at the end of the year.  At our Catholic high school, if you take an AP class, you automatically take the AP Exam at the end of the course (for a fee of $97).  If you score well on the AP Exam then colleges will give you college credit for that class, and you don't have to take it in college.  

This part gets tricky because even a top score on an AP Exam may not translate into college credit depending on the college "rules".  For example, JP got a 4 on the AP Bio Exam (top score is a 5) and if he went to Providence College as a biology major, they would have made him take all of his biology classes and labs no matter how well he did on the AP Exam.  Franciscan University however, gave him credit for two Biology classes based on his score and that allowed him to start in Bio 201 and not Bio 101, which saved a whole year of Bio classes.  

So you basically have to learn the colleges rules on AP scores and credits and factor that into your college decision.  It's hard also because you end up taking most AP exams senior year, and not getting your scores until July and by then you've already decided on a college and just have to hope it all works out.

We feel like what's the point of taking a college course in high school, doing really well on the exam, and then NOT getting college credit for it?  Like the whole point of pushing oneself to take the AP course is to get the college credit and thereby shorten the amount of time spent in college, because you already learned it in high school.  So finding a college that feels the same way is important to us.

JP also applied for, and was selected to be part of a grant that allowed about 20 high school students to take five Cyber Security classes at a local college, and have a summer internship.  He did this over his Sophomore/Junior years of high school and was able to transfer four of those course credits to Franciscan as electives.

When we realized all of the credits he had between his AP Exams and his Cybersecurity classes, he figured out with his college advisor that he could graduate in three years, including spending one of those semesters studying in Austria where they have no science classes, as long as he took a grueling schedule for those other 2.5 years and completed one Biology course plus Lab over the summer.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Week in Review: An Echo, A Mother’s Love and A Clean Room

Thank you to everyone who is praying for Andrew.  He met with the cardiologist on Monday, who happens to be a doctor I worked for as an accountant while getting my MBA...small world.  Anyway, the cardiologist looked at his EKG results and said "They look fine to me, but since someone is worried about you (Andrew's pediatrician) we will do an echocardiogram".  Andrew then went to the front desk to schedule the echocardiogram, and the secretary told him it would probably happen in October.  Ummmmm soccer season would practically be over by then.  He explained he was on the team and trying to get clearance to play, and she said she would mark it "urgent".  Phil ended up calling the office the next day and getting it scheduled for yesterday, like a boss.  

Andrew had the echo done and they said they will call him on Tuesday. Praying hard for good results!

Texts I sent to my husband this week:

Who knew the wisdom of Toad and Frog?

Phil says he might do this on a test :)

My breakfasts all week - cottage cheese with a chopped nectarine - heavenly.  But Phil thinks it's gross.  Fine, more for me!

I sent him this photo of Toni Collete, because a CVS cashier couldn't stop gushing about how much I looked like her.  I was sad because she is one of the few actresses that I find UNattractive.  I asked Phil if I looked like her and he said "No, you're way more beautiful!" and that is the secret to being happily married for 21 years.

First day of preschool vs. First day of college.  Just me spending my lunch break making collages to break my own heart.  I can still feel his chubby squishy toddler body giving me a hug.  It's fine.  I'm fine.  

Whomever wrote this 100% gets me.  Also, it's how my five siblings and I were raised.  We all went to college and beyond, lived in other states, travelled around the world and then planted roots near my parents (most of us are within 15 minutes of my parents, the furthest one is 2 hours away).  We were never told to live nearby or go to school near home, and we were able to meet and date people from lots of different places.  We were free to fly and I think that's what made us want to come back home in the end.  Praying it works with my kids as well :)

Brendan's godfather sent him two birthday gifts that he has been playing with since he opened them:

Maggie's volleyball team:

I can't even imagine if they made the boys soccer team pose in a heart shape like this - ha!

On the same day that JP left for college, I marched myself up to the Big Boys Room and got started on cleaning.  It was not a pretty site:

After three hours, and lots of laundry, it looked like this:

I found thank you notes that Andrew had written after his graduation and never mailed, I found lots of dirty laundry and trash, and I found out where all of our missing chargers were.  Xander is temporarily moving into this room, where Eamon also lives, while the big guys are away at school.  I sent this text to Andrew to show him what happened to his bed:

Andrew and Xander have always had a fun relationship.

Another former scooper from my family's ice cream shops came to visit us at The Cottage!  Catherine was a dream employee, and a great friend for all of those summers spent scooping side by side.  Maybe one day I can hire her two cutie patooties to work for us.

Since school started this week, so did the lunch soups!  This week's recipe is Crockpot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and it will be made on repeat this year.

Andrew went through Freshman Orientation and won a Nintendo Switch at one of the raffles, he is so lucky!  He can play it on the TV that he won at his high school's after prom event!

With the oldest boys gone, and the third boy in a cast, Maggie has become the lawn mower, and she likes it!  Go girl!

On the way to school yesterday, the Impossible Question on the radio was "Name something that 1 in 4 people bought in the last few years, usually at a bargain price".

Me: I bet it's a cruise.

Brendan: Crunes?  Like the things Grandpa eats to go poop?  He's always trying to get us to eat those crunes!

We all died laughing.

But then I came back to life so I didn't crash the car.

And that, my friends was our week in the rearview mirror.  Welcome September!  Have a lovely Labor Day weekend everyone :)

Thursday, August 31, 2023

First Day(s) of School(s)

I usually look forward to these first days of school so much, but this year seems emotionally hard to take.  I think it might be because I feel like summer was really busy with the opening of the ice cream shop, and we weren't able to spend much time off together.  Normally we use the summer to plan a vacation or retreat for the family, as Phil and I both work in education and can't easily take time off through the school year.  But this year there was no Catholic Family Land or Lake Winnipesaukee or even a family beach day like in years past.  As a mom of children of many ages, I know all too well how fast the years go and I feel heavily on my heart the missed opportunities of making fun memories together.  

On the bright side, opening the shop gave us a lot of time working alongside each other, and we truly spent more time together than ever.  The kids all grew so much from the added responsibilities and new experiences of working and running the shop.  Owning a business gives kids an education they can't learn elsewhere, and we dreamed of this for so long that I can't help but be grateful.

Sadness and joy.  Guilt and pride.  Letting them grow and letting them go.  A mother's heart in a nutshell.

Ok Colleen, knock it off and get on with it already!

Here's to the 2023-2024 School Year, or as I say at work, Fiscal Year 24!

Two in College:

John-Paul is starting his Senior Year at Franciscan University.  He is majoring in Biology and will take a gap year after graduation, in order to work in patient care before applying to Medical schools and/or PA schools.

Andrew is a Freshman at Franciscan University, majoring in Biology and (hopefully) playing soccer.  Of course, he sent me a picture with two thumbs up, his usual photo pose.  I'll update his medical story tomorrow.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Week in Review - Medical Updates, Tryout Updates, Lobster Roll Updates

OK so let's start with Andrew's chest pain saga.  Earlier in the summer he told me that it felt like his heart was fluttering, but it would go away and we didn't really think much of it, I think we've all experienced those random weird heart feelings.  Closer to the end of the summer, he was really putting in intense workouts to get ready for soccer tryouts, and he complained of finding it hard to breathe sometimes.  It was hot and very humid out while he was running sprints, and we assumed that was the reason why.  When it happened more than once, Andrew started to think maybe he had asthma.  Andrew has played sports his whole life and never had a problem with running so it seemed weird that he would develop asthma at age 18.  Phil and I struggle through humid summer runs (which is why we mostly don't run in the summer) and hoped it was just the weather conditions affecting him.  Then right before he left for college, he complained of chest pain.  This is when I started to put all the symptoms together, which before had seemed like random incidents, and he went to the doctor.  The doctor thought he probably pulled a chest muscle from lifting weights but ordered an EKG to be sure.  Andrew left for college a day and a half later and we all assumed that he would get an EKG at some point in the future.  Well college athletics are very thorough and told him he couldn't play until he got an EKG and was cleared, which makes sense.  His doctor called the Athletic Trainer and they were able to do the EKG on campus and they cleared him to play!  Woohoo!  

Andrew is standing, 2nd from left

Bonfire on their team retreat

Hanging out at Applebee's with his new teammates, after an impromptu haircut

Sadly, his being allowed to play was short-lived.  He is listed on the Franciscan Men's Soccer Team roster but he is currently not allowed to play because when his doctor got the EKG results, she said there were a few slight irregularities and she wanted him to see a cardiologist to follow up.  Guys, it is SUCH a pain to figure out doctor appointments and insurance stuff when you live in MA and your kid lives in OH.  But he has an appointment with a cardiologist on Monday and we will see what they say.  All of his symptoms point to an arrhythmia, so we are praying it's not serious and he can get back to playing.

Heart arrhythmia symptoms may include:
Heart palpitations
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Fainting episodes
Shortness of breath
Chest discomfort
Weakness or fatigue

P.S. Whenever our family has a health scare, I always think about our life insurance plans.  It's not the happiest topic to think about, but I'll use this as a reminder to make sure you have life insurance before any health issues pop up.  I was able to get life insurance without a medical exam through this company and it certainly puts my mind at ease.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Suddenly Seven

The seventh baby turned seven this past weekend!

We woke up at Camelback Resort and spent a few hours at the waterpark before driving home.

Brendan still has one top front tooth that looks raggedy-andy and he hoped it would fall out on his last day of being 6, because it will be the 6th tooth he loses.  When that didn't happen, he hoped it would fall out on his birthday, but no such luck.  So now he's hoping for it to come out before school starts!  And let me tell ya, we have tried to pull it out for days (I love pulling teeth) and that thing is stubborn!

We arrived home late on his birthday, after attending a very strange Mass in Hartford, CT (!!) and celebrated his birthday the next day...which really means you get two whole days of being celebrated :)