Thursday, December 21, 2023

Week in Review: Oh Buoy, A Nativity Concert and Soccer Banquet and See You Next Year!

How about a beautiful Christmas tree to start this week's post? 

Isn't this buoy tree so adorable?  It's about a half mile from my work, so I can stroll over there on my lunch break.  Each buoy is decorated by somebody, and then auctioned off for charity after the season is over.  They have so many that they line the pier and docks as well!

JP and Andrew arrived home safely last Saturday, and Andrew's been spending a lot of time with his girlfriend (who sends me photos because she's awesome):

While JP got started working with Door Dash to make some quick cash for the spring semester because he's broke and needs some new clothes.

Eamon and Maggie's basketball photos came in this week:

I love my ballers so much!  We get to watch their teams play IRL at home games, or on our phones when they are at away games:

Friday, December 15, 2023

Week in Review: A Short Advent, Favorite Christmas Songs, and Return of the College Kids

Me, back in November: 

I'm gonna go really hard this Advent since it's only 3 weeks long!  I'm giving up sweets, drinks, and eating healthy!

Also Me: 

We have to feast and celebrate on...
December 3rd: St. Francis Xavier (our parish patron saint).
December 6th: St. Nicholas (stockings!).
December 8th: Solemnity of Immaculate Conception
December 12th: Our Lady of Guadalupe.
December 13th: St. Lucy (our dog's namesake)
December 22nd: The Holy Family.
And every Sunday in Advent, obviously.
See it's not my fault, I'm just reallllly Catholic ;)

Speaking of St. Nick - this photo popped up from when Eamon was in middle school, too funny.

For Our Lady of Guadalupe, which occurred on Taco Tuesday, a nice coincidence, we feasted on takeout tacos and Christmas colored tortilla chips:

I got that Our Lady of Guadalupe candle from the grocery store!

And we all mourned our dear traditional dessert of Choco Tacos.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Notes From a Retreat: Everything Will Always Work Out

This past Saturday, I was able to attend a women's Advent retreat on the Cape from 9am - 2pm.  The day included Mass, Confession, Adoration, and talks from Danielle Bean and Allison Gingras.  Over 200 women attended!  It was quite impressive to see so many women, in all stages of life, who made it a priority to sneak away on a Saturday in a busy holiday season.  We all know who the "merry makers" are in the house, and it's tough to be able to pull yourself away from all those demands.  However, we can not pour from an empty cup, and every once in awhile it is so good to get a chance to fill our own cup.  

The night before the retreat, I was thinking of how many things I had on my to-do list and making sure Phil knew what he needed to be doing the next day while I was away.  Four of our kids had basketball practice, the meal planning and grocery shopping needed to be done for the week, and a baked ziti had to be cooked for the volleyball banquet happening that evening.  Phil is literally the best, willing to help out and take on any role to support his family, and yet I started to feel overwhelmed because of the the mental load I always carry.  I'm always worried about the health and happiness of each of my kids, the state of our finances, the lists of things to do, calendars I keep, gifts to be bought, celebrations to be planned, and on and on.  I told Phil that I just feel like I need one day a week where I don't go to work, and I can instead focus on our home and family needs, but we can't afford that. We are just so busy all the time, constantly thinking that it will settle down after this season, or after that holiday, and yet it never does.  I don't want less kids, or kids who aren't involved in activities that make them happy (and we only allow one sport/team per season per kid) but I wouldn't mind a wife, ya know?  Someone else who can do the worrying and planning and overthinking and I'll just focus on the tasks she tells me to accomplish.

Needless to say, I went into this retreat feeling a bit bad because I had unloaded a lot on Phil when all he was trying to do was help.  In the car on the way to the retreat, one of my friends told the story of how she also had a huge mental load and her husband said to her "Don't worry, everything always works out" and she replied "DO YOU KNOW WHY IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT??" and we all laughed because we felt the same way.  The first talk of Danielle's was about being still and being a mom of eight children, she understands how hard that is to put into practice.  She told a story of a phone call she received from her sister, who was complaining to her husband about her list of everything needing to be done before Christmas, and her husband said "Don't worry, everything always works out" and her sister said exasperated "DO YOU KNOW WHY IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT?" and everybody laughed, especially my friends and I who just had that identical conversation in the car.

Danielle also mentioned in her talk that so many women greet each other and ask "How are you?" and the response is "Busy!  How are you?" and they hear "Same, so busy!" back.  Guilty as charged on that one!  Danielle said we shouldn't be priding ourselves on how busy we are.  Being busy is not a virtue.  I got chills when she said that.  Then she read the story of Mary and Martha from the Bible, where Martha was busy hosting Jesus at her home, and Mary was sitting with Jesus listening to His Word.  Martha told Jesus to tell Mary to help her out, and Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part.  Oh how that particular bible story always annoys me, because it feels like Martha has valid complaints and Jesus basically tells her "Don't worry it will all work out" and I always want to scream "Somebody has to cook the food and clean the house for guests!  We can't all just be sitting around!"  But I am missing the point, because yes, the meal does need to be cooked and yes, the house does need to be presentable, but if we are only focused on the to-do list then we aren't enjoying the reason we are hosting in the first place - the people.  We will miss the connections, the stories, the loving memories of the day and go to bed angry over all the hard work we did that nobody seemed to notice.  

There is always a list of things that need to be done.  There are always kids that need to be driven around.  There will always be hungry mouths to feed, hugs to be given, ears needed to listen.  But if we can never lean into our role and embrace it and take moments to be still, then what is the point of all the busyness?  Yes everything still needs to get done, but our focus shifts from the list to the relationships.  And isn't it when a friend invites us over to their not-perfectly-clean house that we feel like they are really our friend?   Danielle challenged us to take just five minutes in silent prayer with God each day.  Everybody has five minutes, and once that feels easy, the time can be extended.  Five minutes to fill our cup.  A relationship with somebody we never talk to is not a good relationship, she reminded us.  So I will embrace a daily five minute retreat to fill my own heart with God's love, so that I can go out and fill the needs of everyone God has placed in my life.  Responding to situations with patience and understanding instead of anger and frustration.  He is in charge, not me, and I will try to choose the better part and trust God and know why it always seems to work out.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Tween Christmas Gift Idea

You can get a FREE Gabb phone today and tomorrow (value $199) when you sign up for a new plan.  This is our kids' first phone, they can call and text and it looks like a smart phone but keeps them off social media and from having the internet at their fingertips.  

And if you think you don't need to worry about your child's screen time and online habits, please go watch this documentary and this one.  We have never regretted being strict in this area of our kids' formation, and we can always do better :)

Friday, December 8, 2023

Week in Review: Birthday Recap, Thank You Texts and Hugs from Above

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!  

Theology Lesson 101: Today we celebrate when Mary was conceived without sin in her mother's womb - hence why Mary's birthday is 9 months from today on September 8th.  Jesus couldn't be conceived and born in the same month and still be fully human.  I'm not a theologian but I'm married to a theologian so you can trust me ;)

Speaking of birthdays... when we left off, it was Maggie's 16th birthday and she had her two besties over after basketball practice.  They ate pizza and we had cake (she requested Chocolate cake with Mocha frosting) and then they went ice skating.  When she came home she opened her presents that included a Mother Daughter ring, earrings, a Cape Cod braceletmini Uggs and then a scavenger hunt (Maggie loves scavenger hunts!) to finally find a promise note to get her ears double pierced after basketball season (no jewelry allowed during games).

Flowers from Dad and cards from little brothers :)

Ugly but tasty.  The cake, not Maggie.  She's beautiful AND tasty.

Flowers for me from the hubby (a birthday treat seven times a year!)

Friday, December 1, 2023

Happy Sweet 16 to Our Principessa

Happy, happy, happy 16th birthday to our favorite girl in the world!

Yesterday I gave Maggie a hug and said "It's your last day being 15!" and she said "Yeah, I already feel 16 though" and we laughed because she has ALWAYS seemed older than she is.  She has always been tall for her age, wise beyond her years, more mature than most of the boys put together, and a dependable, loyal and fun daughter/sister/cousin/friend.  

After years spent praying for a sister, Maggie has thoroughly settled into her role as only girl, and looks forward to having lots of sisters-in-law in the future.  She loves her girl friends fiercely and considers her girl cousins sisters.

She juuuuust passed me in height at 5'8" and had a record varsity volleyball season and just made the varsity basketball team this week!  When we remember how clumsy she was as a little girl, we are very impressed with how her athletic abilities have grown!  Seriously that girl was always falling down and her knees have the scars to prove it :)

Maggie can make friends with anyone and is often sought out to sit next to at lunch as she welcomes all who haven't *quite found* their friend group yet.  Maggie excels academically in high school, and works hard to keep her grades up.  Teachers and coaches love her because she is polite and gives her all.  

She often complains that she "is definitely for real going to fail a test today" and then gets a 98.  She also likes to declare that she is going to clean her room, then takes a 2 hour nap instead.  She imitates her mother by rage-cleaning the house because "nobody does anything around here!" but then calms down as each space is made orderly. I mean, what would a daughter be without a little drama and sass?  Boring, that's what and Maggie is far from that.  

She's everything I could have ever dreamed a daughter to be. The perfect blend of girly and tomboy, the helpful attitude that will also not be taken advantage of, the mix of wanting to be a mom to lots of babies but also wanting to do great things with the gifts God has given her.  She recently said she would like to help in a pregnancy crisis center and would love a career doing something for the pro-life cause.  Just by watching her be thrown into a job at the ice cream shop and hit the ground running, I know she will be great at any career she chooses.  She is a go-getter and a boss who leads by example.  

There are so many times when I look over at Maggie and dread the day she will no longer be living under our roof because I just don't know what our family will look like without her in it.  We are so incredibly blessed by the gift of our sweet Maggie in the Middle.  Happy birthday principessa!  We hope you feel as loved and special as you make all of us feel every day.