Friday, June 16, 2017

7QT: Starting Summertime

1)

It's summer y'all!  The kids finished up on Tuesday...


...and today is Phil's last day of school for the year!  Yay!  Now he wins the prize of staying home with seven bored, hungry, tired, whiny kids all summer while I sneak off to an air-conditioned office to work in peace and quiet :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Farewell to Kindergarten

My biggest baby (he always tells people he's going to be the biggest man in our family when he grows up because he was the biggest baby) graduated Kindergarten last week.  

His teachers must be thrilled ;)

He was such a cutie patootie that morning, telling me that they were going to sing four songs, that he HAD to hold hands with Olivia, but didn't want anyone to say he was going to marry her, because it's just so AWKWARD.  He also said he was going to read some really RANDOM thing he wrote on the stage.

That's when I started to get nervous.  

"What random thing?", I asked.
  "Oh, it's a secret!" he said, as I started to pray a Hail Mary that it wasn't too random?!?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The End of Middle School

So my first born has had a lot of firsts (and lasts) lately and if I don't write about it, did it ever really happen?  Deep thoughts, I know.  So here we go...

John-Paul got hired for a job a while ago, but just started working at the ice cream shop last week.  He has one 4 hour shift a week, which seems to be all he can handle at one time.  Oh how his feet ached and his hands were prunes after washing 100 buckets that first day!  (I couldn't help but giggle over his first taste of hard work...what would you farm families think?!?)  We all couldn't help but giggle over the size XXXL shirt they gave him:


A smaller one should come in next month.  Heehee!


Those wrinkles ain't nothin' to be scared of
They're just a product of time and true love
Some are gonna come and go
Some are gonna come and stay
Son, you're still young, you're gonna be ok.

Love me some old school Diamond Rio :)

Anyway, the job came just in time as his retainer saga continues.  Did I mention that he lost his retainer two weeks after he got it?  I called to make an appointment for a new one and they said it would cost $400 and I was so upset, even though JP was going to take his life savings to pay for it.  When we got the replacement retainer, they charged $100.  What a relief, but still, lesson learned, right?

Wrong.

A week later, he accidentally tossed his retainer out with his lunch remnants in the trash can.  He picked through the trash with a friend and the Assistant Principal and they found it.  So embarrassing!   He wrote the Asst. Principal a Thank You note.   Lesson definitely learned, right?

Wrong again.

The very next day, he lost it again.

I can't even because what are the odds?

(I'm pretty proud of that math joke right up there)

Anyway, he never found it, even though it caused a major spring cleaning of our house (bonus) and some much anticipated friend time was taken away.  He just had the appointment today to get the new retainer, and so all his graduation money went towards that.  Lesson finally learned?

We shall see.

The irony of the whole thing is that he wants to be an orthodontist when he grows up!

But back to the weekend's festivities.  Friday was their big field trip to Lake Compounce.  Phil went with him and captured this video.  Looks like a scary fun time?!?!

On Saturday, I left Phil home with a sick Andrew, the last of the children to get the stomach bug that had been passed around through the week, and took Maggie with me to decorate the elementary school gym for the 8th Grade Celebration that night.


Don't fly away!!

The theme was Seasons, and the parents put in so many hours of meetings, shopping, crafting, and decorating to make magic happen.  The place looked amazing.  This was to be a semi formal dinner dance for the eighth graders...their first and last dance of middle school.  They were psyched.  JP even got a new outfit.  (tie pants shirt)  Side note, I'm so happy to have mostly boys when it comes to things like this.  The girls looked beautiful, but so much more time and planning went into their dresses, shoes, hair appointments, makeup, nails, jewelry.  JP took a shower and shaved.  Badaboom.


Then they changed into caps and gowns for their Baccalaureate Mass.



My Dad told him to stop looking so serious!


JP read the First Reading, and did great, complete with his signature smirk at the end.  I did great too, not one tear made its way down my cheek :)


They changed out of their caps and gowns and walked down to the school to see the surprise celebration waiting for them.  First up was a slide show, then everybody was forced out so just the 8th graders could enjoy their dinner and dance in peace.  


I asked JP if he danced with any girls and he said "Yeah, lots."  I asked whom he asked to dance, and he said "Nobody, they asked me".  D'oh.  Gotta teach that boy some dance manners!  To be fair this is a great friendly class, and they all just seem to have fun together.

Side note #2, I had prayed to God all day on Friday, while I was at home with two sick kids, that He wouldn't allow me to have the stomach bug until after the Baccalaureate Mass so I wouldn't miss any events.  Guess who had to leave right at the end of Mass to go home and start making good on God's answered prayers?  This girl.

Darn, I should have asked for Him to spare me the bug completely!!  What was I thinking?  I didn't know how powerful my prayers were!  God is good.  All the time. (Say it back to me...I'll wait).

Sunday came and went, and we all basically stayed in bed and/or pajamas.  Then Monday night was the actual Graduation!

 Because it wasn't until 7 and we have three kids who go to bed at 7, we ate an early dinner of pizza and subs (JP's choice) and he opened some gifts...



He loved that bag ;)


He loved what was inside it even more, hence the must-be-documented-hug-from-the-teenager.


Brendan was jealous.  

Our niece came over to babysit the littles, and we headed out for his very last elementary school event...



He won "Best Eyes" in the 8th Grade Superlatives.


Two of his close girl friends (side note #3: girl SPACE friends - no girlfriends until he has a job and a car...that's the rule).  Oh shoot, he already has the job...


He led the Pledge of Allegiance, as the Class Treasurer (my accountant heart was so proud) with the Class Secretary.

JP was recognized for placing in the Top Ten on his high school entrance exam, for being in the National Junior Honor Society for three years, got a Scholar award for earning his spot in all Honors classes in high school next year, and was one of the recipients of the Pastors Award for service in the parish.  Did you know intelligence comes from your mother?  Hmmm?


We were very proud of him, but even more than for his brains, just for being the kind, funny, holy, genuinely sweet kid he is.  He sort of flies under the radar, which is exactly where he wants to be.  He is a loyal friend, faithful servant, and obedient (if not forgetful) son.  His brains are a borrowed gift from God, but how he acts every day is much more important.  God sent us a great one to lead our pack.


Phil and I wrote letters to him for his retreat day, and maybe one day Phil will let me share what he wrote to his son, because it was just beautiful and a great reminder about what is important in life.  


His Principal, pictured above, gave an awesome speech as well, one of the best I've ever heard, and included this poem from Mother Theresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

 ( I admit, I did shed some tears during her speech).

More photos!

Our newest neighbors, my parents!

Roomies!

With his only sis.

His funniest friend, Callie!
Monsignor was definitely whispering something to make him crack up.

And one of the whole class:


And just like that, in the blink of a parenting eye, he is headed to high school.  I can remember when he was just starting pre-school!!  At least he has the whole summer to drive us crazy and make us pray for 9th grade to start already ;)  We love you John-Paul Martin and are lucky to know you.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hello June!

Welp the end of May can get hit with the door on the way out.  It was a rainy, busy month that ended with a stomach bug sweeping through the house and hitting all nine of us.  Again.  We just had this happen in January.  

Hello June!!


My parents moved in this past weekend!  They are still unpacking, but I'm hoping they'll let me take some photos of the renovations that took nine long months (for my Dad, I didn't do anything!).  They live in the first floor condo and we live above them.  We are trying to shush the kids with more frequency now and also stop them from "visiting with Gammy and Grandpa" every ten minutes or so.  After not having anyone live down there for almost a year during the construction, I admit it is really nice to have neighbors again, especially when Phil is gone at night meetings/events and his scaredy cat wife isn't all alone anymore.

video

Brendan is nine months, and is just about to really crawl on his hands and knees.  he prefers to pull himself up and stand, and forgets he's not a toddler yet and tries to let go and take steps.  He still clearly says More, Mama, and Dada, which makes me think we should start teaching him more words!  He can nod his head yes, which is quite the feat when you have a head in the 100 percentile.  His little toothy smile cracks us all up, he knows he's hamming it up and does this really funny face while his fan club just eats it up.  Oh to be the baby of six adoring siblings!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Boys and Schools


Phil and I always discuss, as we are parents to six boys, how school seems to be geared towards girls.  We are not the only ones to think this.  Seriously.  We look around the top kids in our high school, the top kids in the elementary school my kids attend, and it's overwhelmingly females.  Girls seem to be "built" better for schools.  More able to sit still and concentrate, more motivated by attention from good behavior, more likely to excel at language and reading, which makes them more likely to succeed overall.

I remember clear as day when Maggie was not even three years old, we went to a bridal shower, and she sat at the table and colored for the majority of the party: 



The other little girls there did the same.  I remarked to my sister that I had never seen one of my kids sit and color for so long.  She, being the mother of two little girls, couldn't believe my astonishment.  My boys would color for maybe two minutes before they were running off destroying something to figure out how to put it back together.  Having a girl seemed so much easier!  I can imagine that teachers who are trying to get kids to focus in a classroom would find girls easier too.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Warriors

This was such a wonderful weekend, with perfect weather in the low to mid sixties, sunshine, and lots of family time.  Just what the doctor ordered!

{Oooh oooh oooh!  But first, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to give some advice on my last post.  I am looking into everything you recommended..you guys are the best!}

On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling ready to get the chores done, so I left Phil and the boys snoozing and took my two early birds to the grocery store.  It doesn't open until 7, but that really means that you can't check out until 7.  You can do your shopping starting at 6:30 while they are stocking shelves, etc.  It was gloriously empty and by 7:15 we were headed home with a whole bunch of groceries.  


We unpacked the groceries and Phil and the boys woke up so we headed out  for a run.  Later that morning, the big boys served a funeral while I took the littles to the playground and Phil stayed home with a napping Brendan and mowed the yard.  Alexander practiced his pumping on the swing, and Declan went on the tire swing for the first time:



Friday, May 19, 2017

7QT: Advice Needed

Help a Mother out!  I have seven questions that need advice, so spill it! Linking up with Kelly on this beautiful, sunny, warm Friday morning!

1)


Maggie needs shorts that aren't short, aren't button/zipper, and aren't tight.  She's very heard to please, which should bode well for her dating years, but when it comes to clothing it's really hard!

2)


Lucy Doodle Martin pulls on the leash...how do we stop this?  She's not always horrible about it, but still too strong for my kids to control her.  Also...she scratches herself a lot - what could that be?

3)


Has anyone gone dairy free?  Is it worth it?  What are some good substitutes for yogurt and cheese (I use almond milk in smoothies)?  Or are good cheese substitutes an oxymoron (as my husband believes) and I should just not even try?

4)


I need a new bathing suit because I wore my last one through pregnancy and now it's stretched out.  Whoopsie.  I want to hide my belly the most, and I also need a skirt or shorts because I won't wear a bikini bottom.  Any suggestions?  Maybe Maggie gets her difficulty in dressing from this apple tree?

5)


For anyone with a wide family like mine (lots of kids with a big age range)...when can you start leaving a 14 year old with an almost one year old?  I don't mind him being in charge of the rest for little pockets of time, but leaving the baby is a big deal, and I'm not sure when a teenager can handle that?  Truth be told, I'm overwhelmed when I have all the kids by myself for too long, so I'm not a great judge.

6)

Can anyone recommend any great summer reading?  I used to think I liked fiction, but I can't seem to get through anything lately unless it's nonfiction.  One day I'll be able to take the kids to the beach and sit and read a book, right?



7)

Last but not least, can anyone give me one great tip for incorporating more prayer time into my day?  The getting up early thing isn't an option for me at this time in my life (we are all out the door by 6:45 am as it is) and I can't stay up late either, so I need a practical daytime tip.  Future me in the next life thanks you :)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone - we've got a pretty uneventful one coming up besides the big once a year track meet!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits

If April showers bring May flowers, then what do May showers bring?

The blues.  (May flowers, however, bring Pilgrims).

Today we are finally getting some sunshine and warmer weather.  Hoorah, we all need a weekend in the sun to make up for this rainy spring.  I always think about spring and summer weather in relation to growing up, owning an ice cream shop.  This spring would have been bad for business! 

I am reading this book currently, after hearing Candace Cameron Bure recommend it.  And she looks amazing:



  Phil doesn't like it when I read diet/health books because it always impacts the food in the house ;)  Anyway, I don't think I can ever eat quite like the author, but I wouldn't mind trying to go off dairy for a little bit to see what changes would occur.  I don't drink milk, but I eat yogurt everyday and I love cheese and ice cream and half-n-half in my coffee.  The struggle would be real.  It just stinks to reach your mid-to-late thirties and realize that you have to change the way you eat in order to fit into your clothes.  I really, really don't want to be obsessed with my weight, and I barely ever weigh myself, but when the clothes are all tight and we don't have funds for a new wardrobe, something's gotta give, and it's usually the carbs.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mama Bird

My friend Michelle, who babysits Brendan while I’m at work, sent me a photo of him the other day eating some cheerios.  I was so surprised he was handling them okay because he gags to the point of puking on whole puffs, so we have to break them up for him.  She said he was doing fine with them.  I felt a little like a mother bird who chews the baby bird’s food for him and spits it into his mouth.  He’s 8 months and can handle a cheerio, step back mother bird.



Normally, this isn’t even my mothering default.  I’m more like the mama bird who pushes her babies out of the nest to teach them how to fly.  Come on, I whisper to the toddler, you’re a big guy now, you can do this, as I watch him struggle to put his shoes on the right feet. Grow up, grow up, grow up.  Nudge, nudge, nudge.


John-Paul just recently landed a job at a homemade ice cream shop (like mother, like son!) as a bucket washer.  If he does well at that, he’ll be able to work his way up to making waffle cones, serving customers, etc.  He just turned 14 and we’ve been encouraging him to find a job because in two short years he will want a car to drive, a car that needs to be insured and requires gas to run.  All of those things cost money and he needs to start saving his dollah dollah bills y’all, instead of spending it on candy.  When I was your age, I remind him, I was already managing an ice cream store, working at least 36 hours a week in the summer, and depositing paychecks into my own bank account.  Nudge.

Our pumpkin head, JP.

Friday, May 5, 2017

7QT: The First Week of May in the Month of Mary

Happy first week of May and a very Feliz Cinco de Mayo!  Let's see what's been happening this week at Casa Martin...

1)
We celebrated National College Acceptance Day, and lined up our four Franciscan alumni with Steubie's newest addition who will be heading there in the fall.  I think it's so great to have this little Franciscan bubble alllll the way in New England working at the same Catholic high school.  They must have a really hot smart Head of Theology to hire awesome theology teachers.

Betcha can't guess which one is the high school senior ;)

2)
Andrew and Eamon ran their 2nd 5k this spring and both improved their times.  Andrew won 1st place in his age group with a blazing time of 21:11.  I'm trying to keep up with Eamon, but he's getting too fast for me too at a time of 26:33.


Eamon was reminiscing over all his 5k's run, and he said "My first race was my worst one."  Andrew quickly replied, "Of course it was, it was also your best one."  Having kids is fun :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Born to Run - Are We?



It's taken me a couple of weeks, but I finally finished the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  It was seriously entertaining, not at all what I had envisioned about a running book.  The reason it took me so long to read?  Well, I like to sleep pretty much more than I like anything else, and I would drift off each night after a few pages.  I once fell asleep during The Passion of the Christ in a movie theater...so don't confuse my slumber with boredom.

Moving on.  Or should I say running on?

There have been many people in my life, upon hearing that I like to run, remark that they "only run when being chased".  There have also been others who try to convince me that running is bad for me "your poor joints!" or claim that they just weren't built to run "shin splints!  hip pain!  too slow!"  and it never sat well with me.  To me, it always seemed like moving our bodies was a natural thing.  I can understand not liking running, I can understand not running if you have a physical problem with it, but I just can't understand when people thought it was crazy to run.

Well...this book proved me right.  And wrong.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Break of Spring

Otherwise known as Spring Break.

Otherwise known as April Vacation.

I just love this break from school and work!  The weather is historically nice, and everyone needs a break from the hard work of March and the diseases being spread around the schools.  Blech, open the window, bleach all the things and see ya in a week.  This year was especially nice because we were let out on Holy Thursday as a half day and didn't have to return until today, 11 days later.  If we didn't have a baby, we would have planned a long trip somewhere.  But alas, this guy keeps us close to home and is back to his up-at-night antics once again.  I'm so sad we can't shove his chubby self into the Magic Sleepsuit anymore.

The week started out wonderfully, as the weather was sunny and warm, and I was able to go for a run with Phil each morning while the baby napped, and then we continued to play outside at the park and walk the dog, and I racked up so many steps on my Fitbit from Monday through Wednesday.


Then on Thursday, my sister and I left for Philadelphia for my Uncle Tom's funeral.  She took her three kids, and I took three of mine - Andrew, Eamon, and Maggie.  John-Paul was visiting our alma mater, Franciscan University with his cousin's family and had a grand old time:



He got his braces off this week too!  So grown up :(


We asked him why he bought an alumni sweatshirt, and he said because it was the most comfortable.  (I'm not sure he knew what alumni meant!)  

Anyway, the Philadelphia van headed out on Thursday morning and headed straight into the city to sight see a bit: