Monday, August 24, 2015

On Borrowed Time

I know the end of summer is trying for lots of moms. One of the best things about summer is that everything slows down and there's less of a set schedule.  By the end of summer, that lack of schedule and routine starts to get to everyone I think!

While I miss having a more set routine, I actually love having my kids around me. (OK...honest moment.  I love having all my kids home except Peter!  Peter is hard and I have a whole other post in my head about vacation time with special needs kids! Extended periods of time with Peter 24/7 is challenging.  I love him...but he burns me out.....)

For the rest of my kids....I love the opportunities that summer holds for long, lazy days of swimming and playing and spending time with them.  As summer draws to an end and a new school year is upon us it makes me cringe a little because, by the time summer time rolls around once again, all of my kids will be a year older and everything will change once again! And even though it seems as if each moment will last for ever, it truly doesn't! I have personal experience with that one since we have a college graduate who has recently moved out on his own!!!

This year in particular is a hard one for me.  Luke is going to full day kindergarten.  My baby boy is growing up and I know all too well how fast this next year will go by!  I know I'm on borrowed time!  The little boy, (that slept for the first time in his very own room on the TOP bunk all night long), came into my room this morning so proud of his independence and in the next breath asked me to snuggle.....that little boy is growing up! I'm on borrowed time! I'm still the center of Luke's life but it won't be like that forever.  I'm on borrowed time! I love the relationships that I have with my older sons, but there is no snuggling involved and I'm definitely not the center of their world anymore! (Nor would I want to be bc that would just be unhealthy and weird!) But I still miss the little boys they were!

Since I've had the experience of raising older children, I have appreciated the time I have with my littles so much more!  But it's still going by!

One of the books on Luke's Kindergarten reading list was The Kissing Hand.  We read it last night...and I was holding in tears by the end! It's hard to let your baby grow up!

Seven years ago, I sent Ellie to Kindergarten! She was the baby of our family(at the time) and was our sixth child to enter school.  I had no idea what to do with myself.  Being a stay at home mom with little children had defined my every waking moment for 15 years at that point in my life and in that one moment everything had changed and I felt SO lost!  I started working part time for my parents but I felt like I had no purpose. (I seems melodramatic but it was a huge life change and it was how I felt!) It got better over time. Between late August and early December, I went from feeling like I had no purpose and was just waiting to die to finding a rhythm I enjoyed that included getting to talk to grown-ups in my job, having a little free time to myself to shop and clean, and volunteering at school.

Then, just when I adjusted to my "new" life....I found out I was pregnant with Luke!  God totally has a sense of humor!

Next year, Kate will go to half day pre-school! Knowing this is my last year with her home with me full time is VERY bittersweet!  I'm close to entering another moment in life that will re-define me! I'm on borrowed time! It's really not easy. (Not to mention that next year, Andrew will be a senior in college, Sarah will be a senior in high school and Ellie will be an 8th grader!!!! I'm SO going to need some Valium!)

It's exciting...and it's all good things.  But change is hard!

(And I'm going to miss this little guy!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Glance into Summer

Summer always goes by so fast! August mornings usually start off on the cooler side, reminding me that Fall isn't too far away! It's bittersweet!  I LOVE Fall...the weather, the football Sundays, cooking in the oven all the time again, wearing sweatshirts! But, I'm not ready to let go of summer just yet!

Blogging has been on the back burner for me, but here's a look into some of the things that have been taking up our time recently!
#1. Pool Time
(Lots of it!) It's such a blessing to have a pool!  It makes every summer day special!

#2:Celebrating Babies!
My friend, Laura, is expecting her fourth baby in January and let me throw her a gender reveal party!  I love hosting parties...and gender reveals are some of the most fun! Laura is blessed to have three boys so EVERYONE was anxious to find out whether baby #4 was another little he or, just maybe, a little she! I got silly string in the appropriate color and when we all counted to three, her boys gleefully started spraying.......




(insert LOUD cheer and a few happy tears shed by many!)

Happy and excited!
 Laura's husband was away on business but he got to see it all through Skype!
 #3: Birthdays!
Last week we celebrated Luke and Peter's Birthday with our families!  This was Luke's gift from us...a digger toy!  He opened it at 7am and spent almost playing on it!! At one point in the morning he was playing in full sun and his red, sweaty head told me it was time for a break!  

Me: Luke, go jump in the pool and cool off for a while. You're all hot and sweaty and I don't want you to get sick. 
Luke:  Mom....real construction workers get hot and sweaty all the time.  I'm supposed to be this way!
Me: (laughing) Go jump in the pool anyway!
(10 minutes later he was back on his digger! :)

Peter's airplane cake that Jay's mom made! She is super talented!

Luke's X-wing Fighter Cake!

Peter with his Grandma whose cake he LOVES to eat!

Oh my goodness I can't stand his excited cuteness!

#4: Cousin Time
Luke and Kate are blessed to have cousins their own age who live in the same town!  They get together at least once a week!  This week they came over and Sarah made them a giant fort in the family room!  The kids loved it! :)


Playing in the rain
 #6: More Baby Celebrations!
Another close friend, Brea, is expecting her fourth baby in just a few short weeks!(gender yet unknown!)  This morning my book club crew celebrated Brea and their new baby with a little "sprinkle". 
Kim and her girls made this cute fruit bowl!

Our beautiful expectant mom!

What does a mom expecting baby #4 need?
 Lots of diapers and wipes..and a couple of books and toys! :)

Most  of us moms...we had a couple missing today!
Book club is definitely more for mom socialization.....
broadening our minds just happens to occur occasionally, too! :)
#7: The "S" Word
I'm trying to put off the "s" word as long as possible!! School for Luke and Ellie starts in less than 2 weeks.  This Sunday is an ice cream social at their school so they/we can meet their teachers and drop off their school supplies. (I haven't bought any yet!) They all need new sneakers, three of them need dress shoes, plus everything on their supply list. (sigh) August is an expensive month!

That's it for now!  I still have about 400 pics to go through from our Vineyard trip in July!  Hopefully I will get around to that sooner than later! (But the way things are going, I'm thinking it will be later!)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

p.s. I'm looking for people that live in/have friends or family that live in Australia or New Zealand! I'm still working as an Independent Consultant for Jamberry and they are debuting in the Aus/NZ markets on October 1st! Super exciting and a great opportunity!  If you, or someone you know, are interested in learning more please contact me!! :) 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy Birthday, Luke!

I have completely neglected this blog space!  Life has been full and going by fast in our neck of the woods!  When I think of how many pictures and moments that I want to share it simply overwhelms me!

But, today.....well, today is a very special day!  Our littlest man turns 6 today!!! Six!!! He has to use 2 hands now to show how old he is! And when he smiles, there's a missing tooth and a 1/2 grown in adult tooth grinning back at us!(yeah...that's one of those pictures I've yet to post!)

Today is a day to celebrate!  I feel a little sad that my baby boy is growing up!  Luke is such a special part of our family!  I've been reflecting lately on the gift that he is in our lives, so I thought I'd share a little of that a 7 Quick Takes Friday kind of Way!

Why "bonus babies" are such a blessing....

1. Surprises Can Be Good
6 years and 9 months ago(give or take), we got an early Christmas present.  A few weeks before Christmas, 2008, I realized that there was a strong chance that I might be pregnant.  Ellie, our youngest at the time was 5 and 1/2. After such a long break, (we had 7 children in 10 years before that!), Jay and I both thought that our family was complete.  Obviously, God had other plans!

I was trying to find a moment to tell Jay....when he gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, "Are you disappointed that we never had any more children?" To which I answered, "Well....". Then Jay's eyes lit up brighter than the lights on the Christmas tree and he ran out to CVS for a pregnancy test! (He has no patience when it comes to finding out if there might be a new "littlest Hamel" on the way!)

Luke at 6 credit Deanna DiMarzio Photography!
2. A New Level of Appreciation
It had been a while since I had been pregnant and had a baby in the house!  After having such a long break between babies, I appreciated and enjoyed Luke's pregnancy a lot more!  I enjoyed each moment in a whole new way. (Well...maybe not the morning sickness...but all the other moments!)  I knew there was a good chance that this could be my last pregnancy, so I tried to see each moment as the gift that it was!
Luke at his 1st birthday!

3. The Appreciation Continues

One of the benefits of having a "Bonus Baby" is that your have the experience of seeing how fast your children grow up!  When Luke was born we had three teenagers!! Mike was 16, Andrew was 14 and Jon was 13.  It didn't seem like that long ago that they were newborns in my arms!  As the song says, "Don't Blink"! With Luke, I knew how fast it would go! So I tried to soak in each experience....I stressed less about getting things perfect and enjoyed living in the moment more!

.....and yet, I still am dumbfounded that my baby boy is 6, losing teeth, and heading to school full time in just a few short weeks!  Sigh...guess I blinked somewhere!
Luke about 2

4.  Family Changes
Luke is one of the best things that has ever happened to our family!  We worried at first how it would work having teenagers and a baby in the house..and all the other kiddos in between!  Teenagers are interesting creatures!  Having Luke when we did kept the teenagers connected to the family in ways that we never would have predicted.  The teenagers didn't want this new little person to not know them as he grew up.  They made sure to be around so they could be a big part of Luke's life! Luke kept his older brothers grounded in our family life in such a unique and awesome way.  I think Luke's birth made his brothers more selfless because they had someone else to focus on other than themselves.

Our boys...Luke at 3 months!  Photo credit: Deanna DiMarzio Photography

 5. Experiencing Things Through A Child's Eyes
It is SO cool to see the older kids want to do things with Luke that they enjoyed doing as a child!  They love watching Luke's reactions to the movies/cartoons that they loved as a child.  They love watching him enjoy the zoo and going to the beach. Going to Disney is SO much more exciting for them because they get to experience it through Luke's eyes, too!  It's so special to see Luke bring out this childlike excitement in his siblings!
Jon and Luke: almost 4

6. How Does It Feel to Be a Hero?  
When Luke was born, ALL his siblings wanted to hold him all.the.time!  Seriously, it was a good thing I was nursing him otherwise the only time I would have gotten to hold him was the middle of the night!! As much as all of his siblings love him, Luke loves all of them with his whole heart.  They are his heroes!  His big, cool brothers and sisters!  They surprise him with trips to the park, zoo, ice cream store, and the occasional toy store visit for Legos!  They play with him in the pool and make up games in the yard!  They run around the house "pew-pewing" with their Lego creations.(and Luke loves that Andrew and Jon have super cool Lego sets that they let him play with...and that they play right along with him!) 

Luke looks up to his siblings as his heroes!   That makes all his siblings feel pretty special and important!  What does it take to be a super hero? Just spend time with a 'bonus baby' sibling!

Kate, Mike, and Luke, 5 1/2
7. Just Because He's Luke!  
The biggest reason our 'bonus baby' is a blessing?  Because he's Luke!  Luke is our truck loving, Light Saber wielding, Star Wars watching, Lego building little goofball who is so incredibly loving and lovable!  He is so expressive and silly that we often question whether he might be part Muppet!

Luke is clumsy and awkward and happy and loving.  He still loves to snuggle and ALWAYS wants to play with Jay and build Star Wars Ships and construction trucks every moment of every day!  

Luke is such an easy going little guy! He gets so excited about things he loves!(aka trucks, Star Wars, and Legos). He is a very patient and loving big brother and such a joy to our family!  I cannot imagine our lives without him!  

I am so grateful that God blessed our family with this very special bonus baby! We all love him so much!
Luke...2 days before he turned 6!

Happy Birthday, Luke!

Now I just need to figure out how to stop blinking....My baby boy is growing up!     

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer and Care Free Timelessness

I have totally neglected my blog space the last few weeks!  I've had lots of posts written in my head....but never found the time to get them down on paper!  June is a crazy month for I have lots to catch up on!  I'm hoping a little time spent on posting today will get me back into some kind of blogging rhythm!!!

With school ended and summertime in full swing, I'm trying to figure out our new routine!  I love the slow rhythm of summer....the more relaxed mornings and the extra free time throughout the day!  Once I help Jay out of the house in the morning, the littles and I eat a leisurely breakfast and hang out in our jammies for much of the morning if we don't have any plans.  I love that we were outside at 8am this morning and they were playing in the sandbox in their pajamas!  To me, that just screams summer!  So does the multiple times in the pool throughout the day!  I love that!

Having some kind of structured activity or adventure a couple of days each week is important, too!  Sometimes I need a reason to get out of the house and the kids need a change of scenery so that the days we are home in our jammies for too long or spending lazy afternoons in the pool stay special...and don't become the dreaded "B" word! (boring;)

With a very tight budget and the challenge of having multiple kids over such a variety of age ranges, finding things to do that are fun for the majority and affordable can be tough!  Plus, I don't want to get overwhelmed by all the things I COULD do with them.....I need to leave time for jammie mornings and pool afternoons, too!

What's a mom to do, right?!?

Well, so far, I've decided to just enjoy my kids, pray for what the best activity for us that day is, and see what happens!  You know what? It's been working so far!

The littles have had a couple of play dates, Ellie was invited to sleep over a friend's house, we've gone to the library, had a rainy day movie afternoon with the video we rented from the library, we went out for ice cream once(so far!), and we had a picnic at the beach!   Today I found out there was a circus in town! Since Jay doesn't work tomorrow, he said it would be a fun way to start the long weekend. I will pack some water bottles and we will get a few snacks to share tonight!   So the kids might be tired and cranky tomorrow, but we will have some exciting family time tonight! Bonus...they offered a family coupon, so it was affordable!

Our local theater is offering free movies a couple of mornings each week. They are repeats, but it's still a fun thing to do! I'm planning on using that as an outing most weeks.

My sister sent me info on a local AHA! that's all for kids next Thursday from 5-9.  There are all kinds of activities from touch tanks and rock walls to Lego building stations and Pirate activities.....and Portuguese food. (That will be Jay's inspiration to go!)

I want the summer to be fun and to do things with the kids....and I want to have that carefree timelessness that lazy summer days are known for to recharge before the school year arrives again and busy, busy, busy takes over!

Every year, summer starts and I feel like we have so much time!  Then it ends, and I lament how fast it went and that we didn't do more!  This year, I'm hoping to have a better balance so that, when the summer ends, I can look back at it feeling grateful for the time we had together and the fun memories we made!
Luke loves pool time with Daddy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How Do You Show Love A Thousand Ways?

Today is a special day in our house.....Jay's Birthday!  Last year was a BIG birthday with lots of fanfare!  This year, Jay's birthday is much more low-key with only some of our immediate family coming over for a cook-out tonight!  This year, I had no great ideas for a special gift.  I was a pretty boring gift giver!  Jay has mentioned in the past few weeks about buying some new three button polo shirts and socks.  So I got him those.....Exciting, huh!?! The only thing he really wanted was a particular I got that for him.  There just wasn't a whole lot of inspiration for me this year!

So....I'm trying to make him feel special today!  While tonight's food will include the usual hamburger, hot dog, and linguica cook-out fare, I also plan on making ribs that have a homemade rub! Our sides will be loaded mashed potatoes and my sil is bringing a salad. My mother-in-law is making the cake(her specialty) and I bought Jay his favorite homemade ice cream, coconut almond joy!  Hopefully, it all comes out ok!!! You know what they say...."The way to a man's heart is through his stomach"!

I am so blessed to have Jay as my husband!  He is incredibly loving, selfless, hard-working, and faithful! He is an amazing father to all of our crew....and constantly gives his all to meet all of their needs andto be physically and emotionally present when they need him.  Whether it's playing princesses with Kate, building Star Wars Lego creations with Luke, and doing any myriad of activities with the older, throwing a baseball around, scooter rides, running, or bringing them out for wings, or a pizza, or a beer(!) bc one of the boys wants to talk....Jay is always there for them.  (Even when he would rather be working on one of his woodworking projects or just relaxing on the couch!)

"A picture is worth a thousand words" here's several thousand words worth of why Jay is so loved around here!
1/1 time with Andrew

Daddy and his girls

1/1 time with a shared favorite sports activity!  Go Sox!

One of the countless date nights we have shared with nursing little ones that included grocery shopping!

Luke's favorite past time!  Lego building with Daddy!

Jay loves babies!

Loves time with his girls...

...and his boys!

Keeping it goofy!

Jay just loves spending time with his family!

Eating + family time is even better! ;)

So strange to have a beer with your child who is old enough to drink!

Daddy snuggles are the best!

Daddy with a very little Sarah!

Jay loves us all so much....It's nice to be loved back!

And he certainly is loved!

Happy Birthday, Jay!  I hope today will be a day where you feel as loved as you are!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Weekly Happenings!

I had other blog posts in my head this week but never got around to getting them in the computer!  So here's a little glimpse into our busy week!

1. Growing!

Ellie and Kate had physicals on Monday morning!  Both are doing just fine and have grown a lot!  Kate is up to 33.5 inches and Ellie is 5'6 3/4"!!! I swear she grew overnight last week!!! She is now the exact same height as Sarah and about an inch shorter than me! Sarah was not happy.....she kept repeating "Ellie is supposed to be my 'little sister' "all night! Plus, the doctor said Ellie still has about 2 more years of growing and one major growth spurt! Being tall is good....especially for playing basketball, which is Ellie's favorite sport!  

2. Coin Free
About a month ago Kate swallowed a penny.  I noticed her gag on something then swallow.  I asked her what it was and she said,  "It was money.  The one with the people on it.", very cheerfully in her cute, squeaky voice!  Well, I spent the next several weeks checking her diaper for that penny. (No, she still isn't potty trained! We're working on it!) I never found it...but I can't guarantee that any one else that changed her diaper occasionally diligently "dug for gold"...or copper alloy, really! Or whatever the heck pennies are made of now!

I brought it up to the doctor and she sent us for an x-ray.  Kate was such a good girl and laid super still!  Thankfully, there the x-ray was clear!  Phew!

Luke had heard me talking to Jay the day before the appointment that I thought the doctor would send Kate for an x-ray.  When I picked him up after school, this was our conversation:

Me:  Kate had an x-ray today.
Luke: Oh, cool!  Did you take a picture of it!
Me:  No, I forgot.  I was just happy there was no penny in her tummy.
Luke: Hooray!! (brief pause)  Oh, no, Mommy, that means that the penny got thrown in the garbage! We missed it!
Me: Umm, yeah, I don't think we would have wanted that penny back!

#3 Field Trip
As the school year speedily comes to a close, the kids have some special days to look forward to. I was able to go on a field trip with Luke's class to Save the's a small aquarium and they look for marine life on the beach and then identify what they found.  The building they are in also houses a carousel!  Here's a few pics...

Love that face!

Holding a Sea Urchin

Luke and his cousin, Brayden, on the carousel!
During one of the touch tank sessions, the volunteer was talking about Decorator Crabs:
Woman:  Why do you think Decorator Crabs put moss all over their shells?
Luke:  Because they're gross!!!

#4: California
Mike, Andrew, and Jon are off to California with my parents for 6 days!  My parents have done smaller weekend getaways with the older kids for the last few years on the East Coast.  This trip is a little farther away and longer because of Mike's graduation!  They are landing in LA to go to a Dodgers game....because every trip they do includes a baseball game.  (Toronto, Baltimore, and Washington were former game stops!)  Then they are driving north tomorrow to spend the day in Disneyland.  After that, they spend the rest of their trip in San Diego.  They are super excited and hopefully will not drive each other (too) crazy while they're away together!

#5:  Left Behind
Those of us left behind have a busy weekend ahead, too! Tomorrow, Jay and Ellie are off to the Red Sox Game.  The tickets were Ellie's birthday gift and she is super excited to watch the game and have her Dad for most of the day!

On Sunday, Sarah is being inducted into the National Honor Society at her high school and then right when we get home, Jay will head to the Father/Daughter dance at Ellie's school!  (More 1:1 time! Ellie's Emotional Love Tank should be full after this weekend!)

Guess I have to make an appointment to spend time with Jay! Because I can guarantee that the moments he IS home during the weekend will be taken up by Luke's, "Daddy can you play with me?" and lots of Lego building!

#6: Birthdays
June is a crazy month with birthdays in our family....with a few other celebrations thrown in for good measure!  My parent's wedding anniversary is tomorrow, Jay's birthday is Wednesday, and my Mom's birthday is Thursday!  My birthday is next week followed by Father's Day, Jay's parent's wedding anniversary, and ending with my sister's birthday at the end of the month!  Crazy, crazy, crazy!

#7:  Therese
Today is the day Therese was called home to God 17 years ago. 17 years!  It's funny how you can close your eyes and remember some moments as if they were yesterday.  While the pain has faded over the years, the memories of her short life certainly haven't.

My very good friend, Kim, sent me two verses this morning....

Romans 8:26
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

1 Cor 10:13
13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

When I went to Biblegateway to look up the verses online, this was the verse of the day...
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

We are certainly blessed with friends and family!
Have a great weekend!