Thursday, February 29, 2024

Some Leapy Things on February 29th

Happy Leap Day!  Have you guys seen the movie Leap Year?  It's one of my favorite comfort movies.  Maybe I'll watch it with Maggie and Eamon this weekend, if they'll indulge me.  

Sophia Press sent us a new book to review, about a bunny (bunnies leap! or jump at least!) called The Story of the First Easter Bunny by Anthony DeStefano, a favorite of ours.  

Even Lucy Doodle wanted to hear the story

This little bunny has a sick mommy bunny, and hears about a man who is healing others.  The bunny finds Jesus, and is able to witness his death and resurrection to learn about the true meaning of Easter, while also receiving a miracle for his mother.  

The little boys loved the story (it rhymes and the illustrations are so cute) and even the older members of the family found there way over to where I was reading aloud and listened in.  While normally I am a big believer in not celebrating/decorating for Easter until Lent is over, this book is great because it does reflect Jesus' journey to the cross and reminds us of what's coming.  

Now when kids ask that age old question "What does a bunny have to do with Easter anyway?" - you can just give them this book :)

It's not a great LEAP to listen to songs with the word JUMP in them, so here's a fun little playlist I will have on repeat when I dance around the kitchen cook dinner:

Are you doing anything special on this year's bonus day?  Taking the leap into anything new?  Special shoutout to all the people with Leap Day birthdays and half-birthdays.  I hope you celebrate like you've been waiting for four years to do so :)

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Wednesday Workout Wrapup: With a Side of Who Knew I Could Wake Up This Early?

At the beginning of the year, I made a small resolution to try and get up earlier at least one day a week to get a workout completed in order to make the rest of my day's schedule easier.  Phil and I started going to a Bootcamp class at 5:30 am on Friday mornings, at a YMCA 21 minutes away from our home, which meant we were waking up at 4:45am.  

Now I'm the girl whose alarm goes off at 7:01 and needs to walk out the door by 7:20 latest in order to drop off the kids to school and then get to work on time, so this was quite the accomplishment.  Every Friday, we would feel so empowered to have done the class, and then so exhausted by 3pm which made Friday nights a lot less fun.  So I'm not sure if we will go back to the class in the future (though it's a great one!) but those six weeks did inspire us to wake up earlier on other mornings to get a workout in.  

Since it's dark and freezing on these New England winter mornings, I was looking for an indoor workout we could follow from home, so as not to waste time driving to the gym when we could be sleeping.  Gosh I love sleep.  

That's when I discovered Caroline Girvan's workout videos for free on YouTube.  She's from Ireland and so incredibly strong (she uses 33 pound dumbbells!) and her routines are fire.  She's not annoying, and only talks in the beginning to explain the workout for the day.  The program we are doing is EPIC III which is 50 workouts meant to be done over 10 weeks.  We skip the HIIT workout each week and go for a run instead, so we try to do 4 of her videos and 2 runs and an active rest day each week.  We did have to buy some heavier dumbbells, bands, and yoga blocks (we already had mats) but that's all you need. 

I honestly wish I had been doing these at home morning workouts all during the kids' fall and winter sports seasons, because the afternoon goes so much smoother when we only have to coordinate their schedules, and not also fit in when we need to workout.  I just honestly thought I could never be a morning person.  And while I don't love waking up early, I certainly love being done and showered by 7:01am instead of just waking up by that point.  I guess you can teach this old dog a new trick.

Wednesday, February 21:

EPIC III - Day 7 before work

4 mile walk with dog after a shorter work day

Thursday, February 22:

1 mile walk with dog before work

3 mile walk at lunch

4 mile run after work + 3/4 mile walk cooldown with dog and littles

Friday, February 23:

Day off from work!

EPIC III - Day 8 (Triceps were sore for daysssss after this one) + 2 mile walk with dog

Saturday, February 24:

6 mile run + 1 mile walk cooldown with dog and littles

Funny story - When we finished our run, I proudly showed Phil my Move Calories because running burns so many, which were Six Hundred Sixty-Six (I don't want to type those numbers!!) and I said:

 "This is why running is.." 

and he cuts in and says "From the devil".  

" good for us, is what I was going to say".

Sunday, February 25:

EPIC III - Day 9 + 4 mile walk with dog

Monday, February 26:

3 mile walk at lunch

1 mile walk after work with dog

EPIC III - Day 11 at night (with Declan and Brendan joining in!)

Tuesday, February 27:

3 mile walk at lunch

EPIC III - Day 12 at night (will go back to mornings, but I've been a bit under the weather this week and needed more sleep).

How about you?  Any good workouts this week?

Monday, February 26, 2024

A Middle-Aged Birthday Weekend of Fun

If you've been following along with Hallow's Pray40 for Lent, you know that there has been a lot of discussion around expectations and how they can steal joy.  I learned long ago not to expect too much for my birthday or Mother's Day and since then, I am always blown away by how loved my people make me feel.  My 45th birthday was just lovely, and I wish all birthdays were on Sundays because the whole weekend feels like such a treat.  I came home to these beautiful flowers to start off the celebrating.  They were arranged by Phil's coworker (and Declan's violin teacher) who owns a floral business and they are making our kitchen smell so good!

Phil always buys me flowers on our kids' birthdays, so these are actually in honor of John-Paul's 21st birthday.  Birthday Buddies for life!  When JP was born on my 24th birthday, I have such a vivid memory of sitting in the hospital bed, staring at his handsome little face, doing birthday math.  "When he turns 21, I will turn 45 - woah!"  That seemed like an eternity away, and yet here we are!  

On Friday, I took the day off from work, and Maggie and I fulfilled her 16th birthday present by getting her ears double pierced.  She had to wait until basketball season was over because no jewelry is allowed to be worn on the court.  We went to a tattoo parlor to have the piercings done, and we were a little intimidated about the whole thing, so we asked Andrew's girlfriend, Darian, to come with us because she had been there before.  Darian surprised us by getting her ears pierced right before Maggie's appointment!  Then we all went out for a meat-free lunch :)

On Friday night, we went to Stations of the Cross at church which is one of my favorite Lenten practices, and then came home and watched The Courier in bed on a tv with no ugly cords :)

Friday, February 23, 2024

Week in Review: Breaking News, February Break and Tax Breaks

 Big news this week.


Let's goooooooooo!

Eamon's last (ever? he's a junior but unsure if he wants to play next year) Varsity game was on Wednesday and Maggie's last Varsity game as a Sophomore was on Thursday and thank you Baby Jesus for allowing us to get through all of *waves hands wildly around the air* that.  Declan still has practices and games for his CYO season, but 2-3 times a week for one kid seems like nothing now.  

This week has been February Break, so no school for the kids and no work for Phil, and I had Monday and Friday off.  We've done library trips to renew interest in reading books other than graphic novels, cleaned out and organized the board games which led to renewed interest in playing games:

Cage Bingo for the win!

One day, Phil took the kids to play basketball and then got them some Wendy's for lunch:

Eamon and his "friend" took the littles out to see the Migration movie in the theater, then came home for chicken parm and games. 

Maggie and I went to get our eyebrows threaded and then she needed a Playa Bowl after that traumatic experience (it's really not that traumatic but her skin is sensitive).  She loved the results though and is learning the lesson that "Il faut souffrir pour ĂȘtre belle".

She doesn't always wear slippers out in public, but when she does it's after basketball practice.

I came home from work one day to find that Phil had left me an early birthday present in our bedroom (my birthday is this Sunday):

The kids couldn't figure out what the present was until I showed them an old picture:

All of those ugly cords - gone!  How did we even live like that?  And look at how cuddly wee Brendan watched tv in bed with me :)

I filed my taxes with TaxAct on February 5th and got both Federal and State refunds by February 20th - woohoo!  Just in time to have ductless mini split units installed in the house next week.  When it comes to money, our motto is "God giveth and God taketh away".

Today involves a little girlie outing, to be reported on next week, and then we will all be staring at each other in disbelief when JP turns 21 on Sunday.  These darn kids never listen when I tell them not to grow up!

Have a wonderful LAST WEEKEND in February everybody!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Wednesday Workout Wrapup: With a Side of Moving Goals

I often see fitness influencers on social media being asked "How do you know what exercises to do or where to start?" and everyone has their own story.  Some of them are trained personal trainers or former elite athletes or people who have lost a lot of weight or just normal people who figured out what works for them after lots of trial and error.

I am none of those :)

I am closest to the "normal people who figured out what works for them" though I am forever in the stage of trials and errors.  I constantly wonder about what works best for me (and my family and our schedules) and often change it up in hopes of figuring out the perfect plan for whatever season we are in.  

Sometimes I get on a running kick because the weather is nice and it fits in easiest with everyone's schedules.  Then I burn out of running and want to focus on lifting, so I start a program to guide me (that's what I'm doing with the free! EPIC III program right now).  Most of the time I just randomly piece together my favorite group exercise classes at the gym, fit in some running, add lots of walking and it's fine.

The only consistent goal I have since getting an Apple Watch five years ago is to hit my Move Calorie Goal of 800 each day.  When I sit at work all day, it requires some effort to reach that goal, but when it's the weekend or a vacation, just being active and having fun all day usually does the trick.  And I'm not craaaaazy about it.  Some days I go well over 800 calories and some days I'm under and it doesn't bother me *much*.  It's a Move Goal but it's also always a Moving Goal because while I hope to stay active for the rest of my life, I know I need to be flexible with what that will look like.

Wednesday, February 14: 

Ash Wednesday plus Valentine's Day = a weird combo, and it made me not want to work out. I went to an Ash Wednesday service during my lunch break at a church I can walk to from work.

1.5 mile walk after service
1 mile walk with dog in evening

Thursday, February 15: 

Epic III - Day 1 (at home before work)
3 mile Walk at lunch

Friday, February 16: 

Epic III - Day 2 +
1 mile walk with dog (all in morning before work)
3 mile walk at lunch

Saturday, February 17: 

Epic III - Day 3 plus half of EPIC III - Day 5. Her HIIT workouts are so intense, we were dying:

4.3 mile walk with dog

Sunday, February 18: 

4.3 mile walk with dog in morning

Then we drove to the Cape for an overnight with the little boys. We did lots of this for hours:

Monday, February 19: 

1.75 mile walk around resort + lots more swimming

Tuesday, February 20: 

Epic III - Day 6 (at home before work)
3 mile walk at lunch
1 mile walk with dog after dinner

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A Quick Getaway to Wizarding Week in Brewster

Here in Massachusetts, the kids are off school for the week for February Break.  Eamon and Maggie still have basketball practices and games, so Phil and I brought the littles (how many more years can I call them that?) to Brewster, MA on Cape Cod for an overnight at a resort that had a Wizarding themed week.  Only Xander has read the Harry Potter books because we make the kids wait until they are 10 to start, but the activities were fun even if you had no clue about Harry Potter, like me.

It just so happened that a favorite soft serve ice cream shop in Hyannis opened for the season this weekend AND it was a Sunday during Lent, so we had to stop and get a treat.  I don't make the rules, I just follow them :)

Then we continued our drive to Ocean's Edge in Brewster.  The mansion has a cool history, if you're into that sort of one time even being used as a seminary!

Do you think that metal ring is for horses?

He's never looked hotter Potter

Xander has read through the series about 15 times already!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Week in Review: Long Games, Lots of Yummies, and Lenten Plans

Excuse me while I look back at our calendar and through my photos to remember what happened this week.


It is indeed Friday, yet only my 2nd day of work this week, so pardon my confusion.  

Last Friday, Maggie had an away game and later sent me this photo:

Eamon had a home game, which Phil attended while I took the boys to swim, but sent me zero photos (don't worry he makes up for it with multiple photo texts later in the week!).  I did manage to steal this one off social media:

On Saturday, Phil and I were able to squeeze in a Valentine's Lunch date and let me tell ya - true love is carrying out your wife's extra blue cheese dressing that she really wants to bring home but is too embarrassed to carry out of the restaurant herself:

I would ask restaurant-blue-cheese-dressing to be my Valentine if only it could respond.

On Super Bowl Sundae (just realized I spelled that the ice cream way and I'm gonna leave it) Eamon had a basketball practice, Declan had a basketball game, and Maggie had a volleyball tournament - can you believe the nerve?  Who schedules these things?  

It worked out pretty okay with the timing of house cleaning and food prep and guests coming over, except when I left Maggie's tournament at 6pm because she told me she had to officiate two games in a row.  As soon as I left, they reworked the schedule and she ended up playing in the championship game (they got 2nd place) and we sent a very crabby Eamon to go pick her up after the big game had started and our guests had all arrived.  We all survived somehow but tensions and tempers were high.

Phil was prepping while I was cheering.  Teamwork makes the dream work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Wednesday Workout Wrapup: With a Side of Love

Recently, Phil had a coworker mention how wonderful it is that we run together.  This coworker of his trains for races all by himself and wishes his wife would join him.  I also have had many of you mention that it's so great that Phil and I work out together.  It really is!  I like to say that "The couple that works out together, works out together" because it truly does seem to help our relationship.  

We both share common goals, we both keep in shape(ish) to be around for one another, we both endure the misery of a long run together, and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger - together.  I could never imagine starting a training plan without seeing if Phil wanted to join me, or watching him go run 7 miles while I sat at home.  Call it competitive, call it codependent or call it crazy, but we enjoy spending time this way together.  

We used to always have to take turns exercising when we had little ones, and we still need to exercise separately multiple days a week, but now a workout together or walking the dog has become a date and instead of thinking we HAVE to exercise, it's we GET to exercise, how lucky are we?

So thank you my Valentine of 24 years (!) for always keeping up with me when I'm feeling strong, encouraging me when I'm feeling weak, and staying by my side through all of our training plans.  As I tell you after every exercise completed together, "Thank you for working out with me!"

Wednesday, February 7: 

3 mile walk at lunch
2 mile run on treadmill + 45 minute Strength Class (while Xander was at swim practice)

Thursday, February 8: 

3 mile Walk at lunch
4.25 mile run/walk intervals on treadmill after work

Friday, February 9: 

5:30 am Boot Camp Class with two rounds of this 22 workout:

(The instructor took a video during class where we make a debut)

3 mile walk at lunch
1 mile walk with dog in evening

Saturday, February 10: 

6 mile run with Phil
1 mile cooldown walk with dog and little boys:

Sunday, February 11: 

2 mile run on treadmill + 45 minute cardio/weight class at gym

Monday, February 12: 

Took the day off from work after the Superbowl!
4 mile run with Phil
2 mile walk with dog

Tuesday, February 13: 

Snow Day!  No school or work!
45 minute weight video at home, I think we will incorporate her videos regularly.  It was so good!

1.5 mile walk with dog in evening

Have a Happy Valentine's Day and Sacrificial Ash Wednesday!  Maybe a workout with your loved one(s) is a perfect way to honor this day :)

Friday, February 9, 2024

Week in Review: Ordinary Days, TV Shows and Super Bowl Menus

Happy Friday!  The sun is shining so everything just seems so much more figureoutable, doesn't it?  

This was a normal week at Casa Martin, filled with basketball games (nine), basketball practices (eight), swim team practices (four), one volleyball practice, one swim lesson, one piano lesson and one violin lesson.  By the end of February, all of the basketball and swim goes away and I am here for it.  A certain someone is talking about joining the track team this spring to stay in shape for volleyball/basketball and track has the easiest schedule to stay on top of, so there's that.  Will I miss all this one day?  Probably.

Sometimes Phil "works" the home games by selling tickets, and gets a front row seat to Maggie's foul shots:

We've been trying to eat all the Valentine candy before Lent starts.  It's a tough job but somebody has to do it:

As I was cutting up my daily apple, I thought to myself...does anyone eat an apple whole?  I always have to slice or chop mine up.  A whole apple is just not appealing or should I say apeeling.

We celebrated a friend's 70th birthday last weekend and that chocolate bomb cake was indeed the bomb.

Last Friday night, I was watching Maggie's home game, Xander was at a school event and Phil was home with the little 2 boys.  He sent me these photos and I just fell in love with him even more.  I hope our kids never realize that Friday night pizza and movie night is for tired parents as much as the kids :)

We have leftover gummy bears from the Ice Cream Cottage, and I threw some on top of their popcorn one night, and now they ask for it!

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Wednesday Workout Wrapup: With a Side of Fashion

I only buy inexpensive workout gear - because eventually it gets too stretched out or too worn out to save for very long anyway.  Here are some current staples that I wear from week to week, and I typically size up when I buy workout clothes:

Leggings (pants)

Leggings (capris)

Shorts - I don't really wear them because haven't found a pair that doesn't constantly need to be adjusted.  Plus shaving my legs more than twice a week is overrated, especially in the winter.

Vest (good for cold weather runs)

And while I am certainly not a fashionista, I do think it helps to feel cute/sporty when doing a workout.  Fake it til you make it, I guess?!  

Wednesday, January 31: 

3 mile walk at lunch

2 mile walk with dog in evening

 45 minute Strength Class (while Xander was at swim practice)

Thursday, February 1: 

45 minutes on our Stair Stepper at home before work

3 mile Walk at lunch

Friday, February 2: 

5:30 am Boot Camp Class with two rounds of this 22 workout:

I put smiley faces next to the hardest rounds - "Stairs" is going down and up the Stadium Stairs 22 times per round, and it takes a looooong time.

Our instructor was coming up behind us to photobomb, but she was too late!

3 mile walk at lunch

Saturday, February 3

5.4 mile run

.6 mile Walk with dog and little boys

Phil and I run slow together and talk, with a focus on miles, not speed.  I don't even check my pace until the run is over.  It's cool to see that miles 3-4 were faster because we were on a bike path when we didn't have to stop to cross any busy roads.

Sunday, February 4

1 mile run on treadmill + 45 minute cardio/weight class at gym

Monday, February 5

3 mile walk at lunch 

2 mile walk with dog in evening

Tuesday, February 6

45 minutes on our Stair Stepper at home before work

3 mile Walk at lunch

1 mile walk with dog in evening

Monday, February 5, 2024

VaLENTine Planning

How terrible is it when Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day?  A day that should be full of feasting and indulging and making everybody around me feel special and loved is now a meatless day of fasting.  Boohoo.

Created by Rosie

So what does a practicing Catholic do?  Celebrate Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras on the day before?  But then that robs us of one holiday.  Celebrate Valentine's Day on the weekend before?  But that is already Superbowl weekend.  Celebrate on the first Sunday of Lent?  Sundays don't count in Lent...seriously 40 days of Lent do not include the Sundays of maybe that's the best plan.

For Lent,  we give up sweets every year as a family, so that's a no brainer.  But then I try to do something extra, either giving up something else in addition to the sweets or adding in something that is good for my spiritual life.   The world can be kind of hypocritical about Lent.  I've had people question the practices of Lent, but then be totally on board with New Year's Resolutions or Dry January.  If we can give things up for our physical health, why can't we give something up for our spiritual health?  If we can start a new workout plan with a goal of running a race, why can't we have a Lenten plan in place with a goal of Heaven?  I don't think we have to practice any certain faith to want to try and better ourself.

One of my children's friends asked "How does giving up chocolate actually help someone's faith life?" and it's a valid question.  How does some seemingly insignificant sacrifice I make bring me closer to Jesus on the cross?  I think the easiest response is that every single time we deny ourselves of an earthly pleasure, we recall the sacrifice Jesus made, and we remember to try and  act more like Christ.  The chocolate cravings and denials don't actually make us a better person, but they point to His sacrificial love and remind us of how we should be living.

In past years, we have tried various diets for Lent, but there's a fine line between sacrificing certain foods for the sake of your spiritual life versus just wanting to lose weight.  This year I think my heart's intent would be to lose weight, and therefore I don't want to choose a dietary change for Lent.  I think I need to focus more on adding in prayer time, spiritual readings, going to a daily mass and Adoration hour each week...things along those lines.  I want to picture myself on Easter feeling very close to Our Lord after walking the way of the Cross with Him and then being very excited for the Resurrection.  

So on that note, give me your best ideas for how to grow in my faith this Lent.  What can I realistically add in?  What has helped you in the past?  Feel free to comment as anonymous :)