Monday, November 20, 2017

Wintery Weather Wedding Weekend Wrapup

I'm still dreaming of the Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes I made for dinner last night.  Do you know my family eats 3 lbs. of ground beef and 5 lbs. of potatoes for ONE MEAL?  And I only have two teenagers!  The chilly weather is finally upon us which means cooking those big comfort meals is back in style.  Summer can be so judgey when I try to make meatballs and marinara and beef barley soup, but not winter.  Oh no, winter's like the perfect combination of huggable grandmother and stretchy sweatpants that just makes you want to sit down, enjoy a nice meal, and add body layers for warmth to get you through until judgey summer comes back again asking you what happened?!?!

Speaking of good food, this past weekend we went to a wedding, which I was VERY VERY excited for and it did not disappoint!  We were running late to the wedding and had to do the walk of shame from the front door of the church to our pew because we couldn't get in the back entrance where the whole wedding party was all lined up and waiting.  Fashionably late is still a thing, yes?  The Nuptial Mass was beautiful, so extra Catholic in the songs, homily, and little teachings in the booklet.  The reception was so much fun!  They had a macaroni and cheese bar, where you got served mac n cheese in a martini glass and then added toppings of your choice.  I made mine buffalo chicken mac n cheese and Phil was all about the bacon!  Dinner was delicious, I had chicken, Phil had prime rib, and the dance floor was rocking all night.  They had wedding cake and a sundae bar for dessert!  I have so many funny/happy memories from the night:

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Big Family Shopping Gift Guide

Well well well...it's time to think about Christmas shopping which can be fun but stressful if you're the one in charge of making the magic happen!  Here's a list of some of our favorite gifts to help you get started.  As usual, I'm trying to focus on getting the shopping done now so I can try to have a less harried Advent.  Advent is only three weeks this year, so I want to make it count!  Good luck to all you elves out there and happy shopping!

(List contains affiliate links, which don't cost you anything extra but help us get a teeny tiny kickback if you shop through my links - thanks in advance!)

Big Boys


Pull-up bar (I can't recommend enough!!  Perfect energy burner!)

Kindle fire and case (So cheap right now)





Knee pads (short) or the longer knee pads





Rubik's Cube (Andrew is obsessed!)

Football cards

Pop Socket (for the phone age group)



Nike Elite socks (They can't get enough colors!)


Fleece hoodies (for the boys who hate coats)


Ripstick (seen in photo above)

Laser Tag Set (such a winner this year!)

Girl's choices





American Girl doll (A WellieWisher is a less expensive alternative)

Shining Light Dolls (great Catholic present!)

Tiny Saints Charms



Dice to play Bolo

String for making bracelets plus a clipboard to help hold bracelet in place

Leap Pad (seen in photo)

Crystal Growing Kit


Younger Boys


Scooter (crowd pleaser!)

Pogostick (We make them go out and jump when they're getting underfoot)

Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry DVDs (Huge faves here)

Disgusting Jelly Beans (Fun stocking stuffers)





Joggers (so great for skinny boys)

Easy Bake Oven (bought this for my daughter but the younger boys love it more)

Walkie Talkies

Little People Nativity 

Plasma Car (seen in photo above)

Magformers (good price right now)

Baby slippers


Mens Picks

Fitbit (We both wear ours everyday!)

Hair Clippers (for the price of ONE haircut)


Family-sized griddle

Copper Pans (he likes his nonstick!)

Running shoes for him

Ice ball maker

Joggers (the "skinniest" pants he'll wear!)

The Complete Fr. Brown Stories

Scratch Tickets

Whiskey or Specialty Beer



Gifts for the Lady

Fitbit Blaze with changeable wristband


My favorite daily water bottle (so easy to clean)

Running water bottle (Handheld and I don't run without it)


 Running shoes for her

Favorite mom running pants (only $16 right now!)

Garment steamer (For the gal who hates ironing...which is like everybody, yes?)

Fiestaware plates (I'm adding to my collection)

Willowtree Nativity Set

Catholic tees (I'll take any of these :)


Family Gifts




Boxing Gloves for adults, kids, and mitts (so fun to spar together)

Krypto (the BEST math game for all ages)

Connect Four

Bose Bluetooth Speaker (how we dance every night!)

Groupons for bowling/ice skating/rockclimbing

Movie tickets (AAA has good prices)

Pajamas for everyone (see photo from Target website above)

A vacation getaway (even just an overnight with an indoor pool!)

A pet (may I suggest a fish?) or Greenies for your pup :)


And that's all for now....hit me up with your fave gifts in the combox and I'll try and add them here :)  I'd love some new ideas for what to buy this year!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

First Comes Love

I love having big kids.  I love hanging out with them and chatting, watching them play sports and develop their skills, and seeing glimpses of the adults they are quickly becoming.  They are helpful and smart and funny and kind and they warm my motherly heart.  I love having little kids.  They are cute and cuddly, delight in the little joys in life, and keep us all smiling from their crazy antics.  They are sweet and clever and funny and affectionate and they also warm my motherly heart.

I just wanna smooch their little faces!


But do you know what I love even more than all my kids? 

Well, yes, God. 

But in between God and my children?  My husband. 

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes babies in a baby carriage.  Without the love between husband and wife, there would be no baby, yet sometimes I forget to flame the fire of our marriage.

It's hard enough keeping all the balls in the air between work and home and all the kids and all their activities.  The marriage ball is an easy one to put down, knowing our spouse is our teammate and together we are working towards keeping everything afloat.  When my husband is trying to talk to me, but the 3 year old yells that he needs help in the bathroom, obviously I need to tend to the three year old.  Kids are needy and their needs are more immediate, so that also makes it harder to save a little space for the needs of our spouse.  Pretty much every day, Phil or I will say to each other "I need to talk to you about something later" just to remind ourselves to check in with each other at the end of the day, after all the kids are in bed, after all the house chores are done. 

But every once in a while, we must  put our spouse first and not as an afterthought at the end of a long day.  Phil needs to know that I like having him around for his sense of humor as much as his child-wrangling skills.  For his patient wisdom as much as his jar opening capabilities.  So each day, we try and take some time every day to reconnect and just be us.  Taking the dog for a twenty minute walk every night has become a date of sorts as we can reconnect and talk without little ears trying to hear our plans.  Going for a run on the weekend together, or grocery shopping alone, eating out for a quick meal while the kids get to hang with their favorite babysitter.  These things make us both happy and we can come back home ready to tackle the demands of our busy life.  I want to try and make time (and save money) for little overnight getaways every once in a while too...and as the kids get older, it will be much more doable.  I think.  I hope!

For this upcoming Advent, I'm going to focus on our marriage.  I'm constantly focused on the kids - their needs, their wants, filling their love tanks.  While I'll continue that, because momming is my vocation... I'll also use this season to focus a bit more on my holy husband, because wifing is my vocation too.  I want to pray together more often, especially for our kids future marriages (if that is their calling!), spend more time talking and laughing instead of watching tv, and  perform little acts of kindness towards the man whom I'm lucky to call mine.  I would love to welcome Jesus' birth feeling like I've given my all to the ones who deserve the best of me, not the worst of me, and making sure my family feels loved and happy and at peace.  And first comes love.   

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Tale of Two Fitness Trackers (Garmin vs. Fitbit)

Quite a few years ago, Phil bought me a Garmin Forerunner 110 for a birthday gift to help me track and record my runs.  I was training for my first half-marathon, and when the training schedule called for, say, an 8 mile run, I would have to drive a route to figure out the distance I needed to run that day.  Having a fitness tracker that could not only figure out my distance while running, but also give me my pace was amazing.  It seemed so futuristic!  I could plug in the Garmin to my computer and it would download my run complete with pace per mile, map of the route I just ran, and I could keep track easily.  

A few years later, Phil bought me a Fitbit Charge for Christmas (can you see a trend in his gift giving prowess?) and I loved it.  It was sleeker than the Garmin, and tracked my steps all day long, as well as my heart rate and calories burned, even my sleep!  It was fun to have access to more information about my body, and I liked being competitive with myself each day.  The band on the Fitbit Charge eventually broke, and Fitbit sent me a coupon for 25% off my next Fitbit, so I looked around and chose the Fitbit Blaze.  This one is really great to use and I love everything about it except it's a little large, much like the Garmin.  

OK, Colleen, we've heard enough about your fitness band experience, what's your point?

Geesh, Colleen, I'm getting there.  Have patience, have patience, don't be in such a hurry.  For when you're impatient, you'll only start to worry.

Anyway....I've been wearing said Fitbit Blaze daily (I actually forgot to put it on one day and felt so naked and wanted to leave work all day to go get it) and whenever I go for a run it says my average pace is about 10:00 - 10:20 per mile.  I was very sad by how slow I'd gotten, but I chalked it up to having a seventh baby, turning 38, having baby weight to lose, etc.  However, I could run a lot faster on the treadmill went I did my interval runs and whenever Phil and I ran together, both wearing our matching Fitbit Blazes (aren't we cute?) his would always track a longer distance than mine.  So if mine said we ran 5.5 miles, his said 6 miles.  We were running together a lot (thank you teenage babysitters!) and so I just went by what his Fitbit said was our mileage.  Then one day, I fell and scratched up my knees and hands pretty bad, and after that felt nervous to run alone.  It was starting to become an anxiety trigger so I knew I needed to start running alone again before it got to the point where I couldn't do it.  In an effort to push myself out the door alone, I decided to dust off the old Garmin to be able to track my mileage more accurately than my Fitbit does.  

I started out my run and when my Garmin beeped, I looked down and was pleased to see an 8:57 mile.  The second mile clocked in at 8:38.  I felt so great running at this pace, and decided to make it a long run because Phil was home, the little kids were napping and it was a gorgeous running day.  Plus I had on my new (maybe favorite?!?!) running pants that completely hold in my mummytummy and stay in place.  Life was good.  

From Veteran's Day
The miles continued to clock in at just under a 9 minute mile pace according to my Garmin.  I ended up running 8 miles at an 8:52 pace and then took Lucy Goldendoodle Martin out for a cool down walk:

How many things can I fit on one wrist?  

My Fitbit, however, only clocked me in at 7.34 miles at a 9:49 pace:


Which one is correct?  I'll take a longer run with a faster pace for $200, Alex.

So what's a runner to do?  Well, I guess this runner will continue to wear the Fitbit all the time and also wear the Garmin during a run.  That way I can keep track of my steps all day long on the Fitbit but also have an accurate record of my runs in case I want to start training for a half-marathon again (spoiler alert...I do!) .  Maybe there's a product out there that is more accurate and also user friendly for daily wear, like this one?  But I really don't want to buy yet another fitness tracker, I think two puts me on the certifiable level already!