Monday, March 25, 2024

State of the Martins - Spring 2024 Edition

Every once in awhile I like to write these update posts about each lovely person I have carried in my womb for nine-ish months (*shakes fist at Declan who was ten days late*).  I asked each of the big kids for a photo to accompany this post, so please excuse the poor quality...and away we go!!

John-Paul ~ Age 21 ~ College Senior

JP with Grace shipping up to Boston

Our firstborn just turned 21 last month, and we were able to celebrate by taking him out with his other 21 year old cousins in the area while they were home for Spring Break.  JP is graduating in May and has decided NOT to walk in the ceremony, as he feels a bit out of place graduating with a class of students who are all a year older than him.  His friends from his class will all graduate next year, and I'm sure he will go back for that one to celebrate with his girlfriend and friends.  We had booked a house to rent to go out for his graduation, but were honestly worried about the timing of it all because The Ice Cream Cottage is opening for the season on May 9 and his graduation was May 11, so when JP expressed that he was thinking about not walking, we were so relieved and told him we would put the money we would have spent travelling out there towards his plane ticket to Hawaii this summer.  Yes, he is really going to Hawaii for a friend's wedding and sleeping in a tent on top of a Lexus.  

JP has been applying for jobs to get patient care hours for the next year(s) while he lives at home so that he can apply to Physician Assistant school.  He is pretty sure that PA is the medical route he wants to go, instead of becoming an MD.  Less money, less schooling, start working sooner, can get married sooner.  JP and Grace have been dating since the beginning of freshman year!  He is also about to start a shadowing program at a hospital near his college, which he is very excited about.  He is hoping that this shadowing + EMT experience + interning at an eye doctor + his gpa from his Biology degree will be able to get him a job in patient care and eventually into PA school.  It's a long and difficult process!

Andrew ~Age 19 ~ College Freshman

Andrew (top) with friends in a hammock on campus

This guy has surprised us so much this year.  He loves college life (too much?) and has decided to change his major from Biology to Nursing...if he can get into the highly competitive program.  Andrew is really hoping to get into this program and figuring out and jumping through hoops to do so.  He has met with an advisor many times, who informed him that he has to take not one, not two, but THREE science courses - all with labs - this summer. He's all signed up for those online so that he can work for us at The Cottage as well.  A few weeks ago, he found out that there was a Nursing Entrance Exam being offered on campus for free in two hours, so he went and took it with no studying/prep. He also had to quickly apply to go to the semester abroad in Austria for this coming fall because that is the only semester that nursing majors are allowed to go (in order to fit in all of their courses and clinical hours).  He figured out how to get his passport while in Ohio, applied for the semester abroad, was on a waiting list and then just found out that he made the cut and is going to Austria this fall!    

While he was home on spring break, he met with a Nurse Practitioner to discuss the career of nursing and get advice, and he also brought my mom to her Physical Therapy appointment in order to talk to the PT about that career as well (PT is what he was originally thinking).  After talking to those two guys, he feels even more strongly that nursing would make him happiest.  We are all praying that he can get into the nursing program as all students in pre-nursing find out in the fall of sophomore year if they are officially accepted.  So he needs to take those 12 credits in the summer, not even knowing yet if he's able to get into the program.  My nerves!  

Andrew has also been playing on an intramural basketball team and completing Exodus 90 with friends, so he is just thriving on all cylinders as a freshman at Franciscan.  I think his life couldn't get any better right now unless his girlfriend was studying at the same college as him.  For now, distance makes the heart grow fonder :)

Eamon ~ Age 17 ~ 11th Grade

Eamon (right) trying on St. Patty's Day hats with a cousin

Eamon was away this past weekend, as a leader on a Guys Retreat at his high school.  He came home on Sunday afternoon, then went to youth group that evening.  He was asked to read at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday night at the cathedral in our diocese, when the Bishop consecrates the sacred chrism to be used in sacraments for the upcoming year.  *** Mmmm I can remember the smell of my babies freshly baptized heads now. ***  Eamon will also serve as the MC at our parish masses on Wednesday and Holy Thursday before we leave for Maryland on Good Friday morning.  To say he is "involved" in the church and campus ministry at school is almost an understatement.  It's wonderful to witness his faith.   

Eamon has officially asked his "girl friend" to be his "girlfriend" and she is just a doll.  He is currently not playing a spring sport, but he works out at the gym almost every day and is trying to bulk while taking creatine.  Eamon is such a great student and his gpa is so high that the numbers don't even make sense to me.  He is just a fun-loving good all around guy.   Lest you think he is perfectly perfect in every way, let me confirm that he is consistently the last one out the door, tardy to school all the time, and does not respond well to a change in plans, much like his mother.  It's that Irish temper y'all and with a name like Eamon, we basically manifested it.  

Maggie ~ Age 16 ~ 10th Grade

Maggie (right) with Darian (Andrew's girlfriend) after volleyball

Our wee lass is the one who keeps us busiest, between her sports events and her social plans.  Let's just say that when she gets her license we will all be grateful.  She has gotten in one minor little accident already (hit somebody's side mirror who was parked on a narrow road) but that's mostly because Phil makes her learn to drive on the big van.  

Maggie is participating in Spring Track to keep in shape and is trying to figure out her events this year.  She like discus and running with the long distance peeps, so we shall see.  I tried to persuade her to throw the shot put like her dear old mom used to do in high school, but she prefers discus.  Maggie had another Volleyball Tournament this past weekend and her team came in 3rd.  She looooooves volleyball so much and can't wait until the fall of her Junior year to start so that she can play every day.   I think she will be a beast in kills for the team next year, taking after her cousin who graduates this year. 

 Maggie is constantly stressed about school and yet manages really great grades.  Her math teacher told her she is an "insecure perfectionist" and that is such an accurate description.  She works hard in everything she does, stresses over it, but will be just fine in life.  She babysits every once in awhile for our neighbor and can't wait for The Cottage to open so she can make some money.  She does get annoyed that all her older brothers are dating and she is not allowed to date yet (maybe not ever if her dad and brothers can convince her?) and I remember pining away for a boyfriend at her age as well.  It will all happen soon enough!  Maggie recently played the role of Mary in our parish's Living Stations though she really is too old, but they needed her.  She is involved in youth group and campus ministry as well, and is looking forward to the Franciscan Youth Conference (with Eamon too) in June!

Alexander ~ Age 12 ~ 7th Grade

 Xander the Harry Potter expert

Our evil genius will become a teenager this summer and I need to wrap my head around that fact as he is still part of The Littles in our family.  If I could have planned our family differently, I would have had two years between each child.  Xander is 3.5 years younger than Maggie and almost 3 years older than Declan, so he is sort of an island in the sea of Martin children.  He does indeed beat to the rhythm of his own drum and I'm not sure if it has to do with birth order/spacing or he was just created extra special.  

Xander is still playing piano, and has his yearly competition coming up in April.  The older he gets, the more difficult the competition, but he really has a beautiful musical gift and I hope he always plays even if he doesn't always compete.  Xander had a great first year on the swim team at our YMCA, grew so much in confidence and now has his high school sport picked out.  Since swimming ended, he has been running most afternoons after school to stay in shape and also train for the Father's Day 5k race.   He puts thought into his braces' band color when he has his orthodontist appointments (they are currently green for St. Patty's Day) and asks to watch The Chosen as a family as often as he can.  Watching tv or a movie together while eating popcorn is his preferred love language.  Xander can never be seen doing homework or studying but manages to do pretty well in school.  Much like his oldest brother, he has the intelligence but not the work ethic when it comes to school.  He's happy to get a B+ without trying than to have to do the work to get an A.  He says he would like to be an Anesthesiologist (he used to want to be an Orthopedic Surgeon) so we keep instilling in him that he needs to form good study habits now.  It will click one day, I'm sure.  Until then he keeps us all laughing daily.

Declan ~ Age 9 ~ 4th Grade

My little point guard

Declan just lost his 10th tooth 10 days before he turned 10.  He then wasn't quite sure what to do with said tooth because he is in that precious stage of "not believing but still wanting a dollar".  He decided to just leave it on his bureau and made sure to tell us where it was multiple times.  When he awoke to a dollar instead of the tooth, he sweetly said "Oh this is much too much" feeling guilty that he had basically forced us into giving it to him, I think.  Declan has a heart of gold, he is so generous and kind and happy with literally anything we are doing or give to him.  He is the kid who always wants to go on a run with us, or go to the store, or play outside with anyone available.  He just loves being active and his worst day ever would include being stuck in the house all day.  Declan just finished his basketball season and though he improved so much this year, soccer truly is his sport.  I signed him up for a soccer camp this summer and he is thrilled.  He continues to play violin with weekly lessons and a teacher who thinks he has a lot of talent.

Declan gave up chips and crackers for Lent this year (following in Eamon's example) and since we also give up sweets as a family, it made the packing of school snacks very difficult for him.  He will be very happy after Easter when he can throw some cheese crackers or a bag of chips in his lunch box.  Declan's belly is always either "starving" or "so full" and can never seem to find a happy medium but we will keep trying!  He still suffers from misophonia and has started sleeping with earplugs at night because of certain brothers who "breathe loudly".  That has helped a lot!  Misophonia is definitely a cross for poor Dex, and it affects the rest of the family as well, as he reacts quite loudly to our sniffles or singing.  Fingers crossed he outgrows the severity of it.  He can handle those noises at school, and has a great group of friends so he is certainly thriving in that sense. 

Brendan ~ Age 7 ~ 2nd Grade

Funny faced Brendy boy

This kid.  What a force to be reckoned with.  You all would just KNOW that he is the youngest of seven kids if you talked to him for a couple minutes.  He is unbelievably sharp and at times sarcastic/sassy.  He will often correct us when we misremember or misspeak.  Nothing gets past this kid, it's mind-blowing.  Brendan is a huge reader.  He is currently reading Book Six of A Series of Unfortunate Events and can't wait until he finishes them all so that we can watch the Netflix series with him.  He even inspired Declan to read them too, and I can hear them talking about the plots and characters all the time.  He remains so cuddly and affectionate and small in stature that I can still pick him up. 

Brendan is mourning the death of our trampoline and even though we don't want to keep killing our grass, I think he really needs a replacement.  He is very excited to receive his First Communion in May and has already been to Confession four times since his first one this year.  The boy has no fear and confidence out the wazoo.  He loves to watch an episode of Family Matters with me each week, and thinks Steve Urkel is just hilarity personified.  Brendan loves music (he will start piano lessons soon) and puzzles and asking Alexa hundreds of questions every day.   He suffers from "bad fingers and toes" which we have been to the dermatologist about for so many appointments.  They say he has Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis and no prescription cream has worked, so we are praying he outgrows it by puberty which seems so far off for our little caboose.  

Phil & Colleen 

As for the parental units, we are just swimming along.  Spring is a much less stressful time when it comes to sports commitments for our family, so that is nice.  I basically just have to drive from work to Maggie's high school to pick her up after Track, and that's it.  In his role as Director of Religious Ed, the spring gets busier for Phil with all the sacraments occuring and religious ed program wrapping up in May.  My online college course also wraps up in May, and that has gone pretty well, considering a snag when I realized I had an older version of the study guide the students were using for their textbook.  Once that was solved, homework was much easier to grade.   The Ice Cream Cottage is opening on May 9th, the day after the big boys come back from college (Welcome Home!) and in the knick of time for Mother's Day weekend.  We are making some small tweaks to the menu and prices and hours and layout of the store, so there is always something to do.  We are actually receiving an award next month from our town's improvement association for our work in improving and beautifying the town by remodelling and opening the ice cream store, so that is a lovely and unexpected accomplishment.  We will also celebrate (God willing) 22 years of marriage in May, and probably celebrate with an ice cream cone :)  

If you've read all this, you deserve one too!  Happy Feast of the Annunciation!


  1. Nursing is such a rewarding field. Difficult, but rewarding. My daughter is in a nursing program. Anatomy was really difficult, but she got through it. Her school just started a year round program, so instead of graduating in May 2026, she'll be out in August 2025- she will have two years of college in a 15 month time period. No breaks except for Christmas/Winter 2024.

    1. Oh wow, that's nice and fast! Good for her!! At Franciscan, it's a four year bachelor's plus RN. The students who want to push themselves can take grad classes during their senior year too. Fingers crossed he can get in!

  2. Wow! your family packs a lot into their lives!
    Would JP be interested in being a medical scribe? That's what my daughter did for a year between a year of research and med school to get clinical hours. Or does he want something more hands on?
    Good luck with the Ice Cream Cottage! My daughter came home from college for break to work at our town
    s version of the cottage. They opened march 15th, and of course since then the weather has been windy and cold. So it's slow and she doesn't get many tips, but it keeps her out of trouble.

    1. Being a medical scribe is EXACTLY how he wants to earn his patient care hours. He's trying to become one in the dermatology field, but he needs to be less picky and throw a wider net. There are ice cream shops starting to open around here too, but the weather is not helping!

  3. Colleen, I enjoyed hearing about your beautiful family this afternoon. I am not going to say the dreaded, "I can't believe how big your kids are! or My goodness! They are all grown up!" because I don't like it when people say that to me! I want to yell, "I am aware!" OK. maybe not. But you know what I mean. My mom syas that growing up is what kids are supposed to do. And I always listen to my mom. Just why did it have to be so fast? Moving on, I am so impressed with each ouf your children embracing what they enjoy and have interest in. That says a great deal about you and your husband as parents, you know. Having followed along with you all these years, I am here to say that you are awesome parents raising a beautiful, blessed family. Happy ? Holy Week, my friend. Yay for ice cream!!!

    1. Thanks so much, your comment means a lot coming from such a good mom as yourself! I agree with your mom, we are raising them to let them go...just hopefully not too far :)

  4. I was talking to my 15 yo son about being a nurse this past weekend and he was excited about the idea. I used to think of it being such a great "mom" job and now I am realizing what a great "dad" job it is too! I sure hope your son can get in the program!

    1. Yes! The NP he talked to is a dad of five little kiddos and he works either a 24 hour shift + 12 hour shift or three 12 hour shifts each week. Andrew was like

  5. Your kids sound like such awesome human beings - but you already know that they are!!

    1. Moms can be a bit biased, right? But thank you!


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