Friday, April 28, 2023

Week in Review: It's Gonna Be May, Setting Up Shop, Winner and a Chicken Dinner

Where did the week go?  How is it already the time of year where I post:

And May is when the doors windows to The Ice Cream Cottage will finally open!  I bought some white planters and my dad built a big flower box to go in between them.  The carpentry dept. at the vocational high school near us is making the big "The Ice Cream Cottage" sign for the building, and I have the other signs ordered.  The shutters came in, and the electrician and plumber wrapped up. It will look so pretty when it's done.

Phil ordered two chest freezers for ice cream bucket storage, and let's just say that nobody better cross him because these things are huge and he's 50% Sicilian ;)

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

I Love You, Make Good Choices, Choose Joy

Want to know the downside of sending your kids to a great Catholic school?  

No bus.

Want to know the upside of not putting your kids on a bus?

Spending those ten minutes with them in the car each morning.

I used to look at the morning drop off as just another box to check on my to-do list.  Getting seven kids ready in the morning and packed into my van to drop them off at school and daycare was a lot of work.  And then I had to go to actual work which started at 7:15 am.  When the daycare drop off ended, and they all went to school it was like a weight was lifted.  When I switched jobs and didn't have to be at work until 8 am it was like another weight lifted. These days I am down to driving the last three guys (not so little, but still my littles) to school in the morning.

We get in the van at 7:15 and say our morning prayers, listen to the impossible question on the radio and try to call in if we think we know the answer.  I hear about what each one has going on and what they are excited for (getting to pick their history fair project topic!) and what they are not looking forward to (telling the teacher they forgot their homework at home!).  I so enjoy these moments with them, and I have more wisdom now to see the beauty in it.

I'm not going to tell you to ENJOY EVERY MINUTE with your kids and that IT GOES BY SO FAST because sayings like that make me feel anxious and guilty.  I used to be in such a physically exhausting stage of parenting that I absolutely did not enjoy the morning drop off.  Circumstances changed and I have the grace to be able to see how fleeting this stage is, mostly because I have gone through it already, and that allows me to appreciate it now.  You can't just jump ahead to the point of appreciating and fondly remembering the hard years without going through the hard years first.  And the hard years make it difficult to enjoy every minute, no need feeling guilty about that.

Though the number of kids in my van has changed dramatically through the years, one thing that has not changed  is that I say "I love you.  Make good choices.  Choose joy." at every morning drop off.  And those cute and innocent little kids look back at me and say "Love you too!" as they run into the school, ready for the day ahead.  I need the daily reminder just as much as they do, and I am so thankful for the privilege of being their mom and for the blessing of morning drop offs.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Week in Review: Not a Break, Not Poisonous, Not Your Boss

 It's the end of our April break here in Massachusetts and while it was a reprieve from school, there was a lot of working involved to get The Ice Cream Cottage ready to open in a few weeks.  So was it really a break or not?

We are so lucky to have my dad helping us reconstruct the shop.  Being a builder AND an owner of multiple ice cream shops is a very unique niche and he has all the expertise.  While my mom's not swinging a hammer, she has been giving great advice and researching for us.  Phil is THE MAN for working so hard cleaning, building, painting and setting up all the repair guys, electricians, plumbers, etc. to keep it all moving.  When the big kids aren't working their other jobs, they have been helping us too and the little ones bring the excitement.  Other family members have helped out with loans and physical labor and encouraging support from afar.  It truly is a family affair!

Our biggest expense has been the purchase of two dipping cabinets.  Getting them delivered was a nightmare because of their size and weight.  A friend brought his bobcat over to get them off the truck for us, and then more friends helped carry them inside.  We owe so many people so much ice cream :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Weekend Wrapup: Sporty Kids, Sore Muscles and Sheet Pan Dinners

Maggie had a two day volleyball tournament in Providence, Rhode Island this past weekend.  It required leaving by 6:30 am and getting home around 3 pm on Saturday, then repeat on Sunday, only to watch her lose ALL OF HER GAMES.  Good thing she loves the sport, because boy is her league terrible.

Maggie is a consistently great server, unlike her mother was in high school.

#30 on her shirt but #1 in our hearts

Andrew flew out to Pittsburgh to visit Franciscan University for the long weekend.  He said he played a lot of beach volleyball on the sand courts behind my old dorm, a lot of frisbee games and hung out with JP and his friends.  They had a bonfire one night and ate out another night.  Andrew texted us that he missed our home cooking already, as the cafe food wasn't cutting it.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Week in Review: A Confirmation and Other Tidbits

Maggie was Confirmed!!

Our parish (with the world's best DRE, Phil) joined up with another parish and the Bishop came and now Maggie is Margaret Rosemary GIANNA Martin and officially an adult in the Catholic church.  Andrew graciously stepped in for JP as her sponsor since he's still in Ohio.

Thanks to my friend for sneaking this photo for us!

Maggie has had a very strong devotion to St. Gianna since she was a little girl.  I mean, who wouldn't want to emulate a strong intelligent female who became a doctor back in 1949 in Italy and then chose to save her baby's life over her own.  Whatta woman!

Maggie dressed as St. Gianna

In her Choose Like Gianna sweatshirt

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Yesterday, A Lousy Poem by a Tired Mom

This bad poetry brought to you by genuinely feeling exhausted.

Like every weekday, I worked from 8-4,

Got the groceries after, a much hated chore.

Walked the dog to get some steps,

Fed the kids and cleaned up the mess.

Eamon needed to work, so the husband took him,

Andrew and Maggie had rehearsal for Confirmation.

That left me home with the little three boys,

Whose favorite word is "MOM!" and love all noise.

Did the laundry cuz nobody else cares,

Yelled at the kids to clean the upstairs.

Felt bad about that and sent them to play,

Told them we'd have a spa night, yay!

Went outside and cut their hair,

Back inside for baths with flair.

Cleaned their ears and cut their nails,

Milk and cookies to make up for my fails.

Husband came home with big kids too,

Had business phone call and ordering to do.

I chopped salads for lunch the next day,

Showered and pjs and novena to pray.

Turned on the tv to finally rest,

I was out like a light by 9:30 at best.

Woke up this morning, walked with husband and dog,

The To Do List for the day running through my brain log.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Easter Hoppenings :)

On Good Friday, we normally wash the walls because it's a chore everybody hates so I try to turn it into a sacrificial example of Jesus' dying on the cross for us.  He died for us, we can clean the walls.  I don't know, it's all very Lenty and Good Friday-y in my head.  Anyhoo, this Good Friday, my lead up-high wall washer (Phil) was working on the ice cream store, so the kids and I decided to clean out the mudroom instead, also a very hated project.  Here's about 2/3 of the contents of the mudroom spread all over our living room.  The other 1/3 of the contents are my shoes that live on shelves in there.  Everyone had to go through their shoe box and their hook jackets/sweatshirts and get rid of everything they no longer wore.  We vacuumed and febreezed the mudroom and now it's a nice little nook again.

The Ice Cream Cottage...we walk Lucy down there in the evening to check on any progress, it's only 3/4 mile from our house :)

Maggie and I went for our much needed annual mani/pedi.  She was texting me how ticklish it was and I agree, but worth it to have cute feet in the end.

I let my nail girl pick the color and she chose this light purple for Easter.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Week in Review: A College Decision, A Piano Competition and the Start of Construction

Let's start with the biggest news of the week - Andrew made his college decision.  He'll be attending...

We are so thrilled for him, and very proud of his hard work to earn the Chancellor's Scholarship and other merit scholarships.  He hopes to play soccer for them in the fall as well, and will be flying out to meet the coach on Athletic Visit Day next week.  We saw the new field when we visited campus for Easter last year, never knowing he might be playing on it one day!

JP is very happy to have Andrew join him on campus next year...and also because we are letting them take a car with them :)  Andrew really dragged his feet carefully considered his college options and realized that Franciscan was the best financial option and where he would be the happiest.  He is following in the footsteps of his brother, both parents, two cousins, and eight aunts and uncles.  Looks like one year old Andrew has always known he would be attending Franciscan:

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Eight was Great, But Nine is Fine

Our sweet Declan Kolbe turned NINE this weekend.  

"I can't believe I'm nine.  I still feel like I'm only eight."

The night before his birthday, I told Declan that I was going to take him grocery shopping with me in the morning.  He said "Yesssss!  That's my favorite thing to do in the morning!"  This boy is an absolute joy, smiles so easily and is happy to tag along anywhere.  He is constantly asking to come with us on errands, dog walks, and runs and can keep up while chatting us up the whole time.  He was very happy to find cards from his siblings (JP face-timed him from college):

He picked donuts for breakfast:

He reminded me that I had said that everybody could use the foot massager on their birthday:

After lunch (Annie's mac n cheese that he had picked out at the grocery store) he got to open his big present:

A nighthawk!  Don't worry, we made him go put on shoes and a helmet before he zoomed off.

Declan picked shepherd's pie "with only corn, no peas and carrots" for dinner and triple chocolate cake (with ice cream, of course) for dessert.

Declan has always loved dolphins.  He hopes to swim with them one day and I hope his dream comes true, but until then, he has a nice light for his room.

Nana and Gramps sent up The Chronicles of Narnia set, which was a big hit!  Xander stole book five to read right away.

Gammy and Grandpa got him a fitness tracker, which he has been asking for since Brendan got one on his last birthday.

And we gave him a Paint by Sticker book with ocean animal pictures.  The kids love doing these :)

Declan, we all love you so very much.  You are a kind and generous little boy who is so very thankful for everything you have.  You love so easily and give out hugs and say "I love you from the bottom of my heart" every single time we leave each other.  You love to play outside, especially soccer, but you are a great student in school as well, and a friend to all.  You are coming out of your shyness each year and it's fun watching you grow in confidence.  We don't deserve a beautiful soul like you, but we are so very grateful to God for the gift of Declan Kolbe Martin.  We love you from the bottoms of our hearts.  Happy Birthday!