Friday, March 1, 2024

Week In Review: Mini Splits, Meal Hits and Other Bits

Happy First Friday of March!  I used to detest March (so long, no school breaks, winter weather, LENT) but now that my college kids come home for a week during March, I love it again :)

Speaking of college kids...JP sent me a photo on his 21st birthday with his girlfriend, Grace.  He said a small group of friends ordered takeout and had a little party for him:

College Sweethearts

I also just paid his last college tuition bill this week.  Can you believe it?  JP did really well with scholarships and grants and paid 50% of his tuition each semester (we paid the other half) and he will be left with about $21,000 in loans.  Not too shabby.  I remember crying once (while pregnant with Baby #7) after a coworker asked me "How on earth are you going to afford college for all of those kids?" so this feels like a really big achievement for our family.  God provides, we work hard, and it all comes together.  One done, six to go!

Andrew sent me this selfie he had used to check-in for a job he and a buddy signed up to do.  Basically they had to give a donut away to anyone who signed up for an app.  They had 80 dozen donuts, and Andrew, or Andy as he is known on campus, said it was the easiest money he ever made.

College Sweetheart

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".  

"...so 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.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL SEASON IS OVER!!

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