Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's All About The Memories

I'm attempting to get a post in before Tuesday gets away from me!  We had a full, but fun, weekend, that included, but was not limited to:  a little cleaning, birthday party for Jay's mom, Ellie's first basketball game, our Parish Variety Show, Mass, a walk in the woods, Jay taking the youth group to a nursing home, and watching the Patriot's game!  Phew!

The weekend certainly flew by.  So did Monday!  Now Tuesday is 3/4 over!  Anyone know a way to slow time down?  No?  Well, if you figure it out please email me!!!

Here's a few picture highlights from our weekend:)

Ellie and her classmates from the team:  They won:)

Luke and Daddy

Kate caught up!

Luke has to climb on every rock he sees!

Me and the littles

Loving the 'walking together' shots!

Daddy showing Luke and Kate different things about the pond.
He told them stories about fishing with his cousin Jeff when they were kids.

Daddy with his youngest son and daughter!

It wasn't a long walk because it was brisk here on Sunday.  But, the little kids had fun and the four of us got some fresh air..and some together time!

After all...it's all about the memories!;)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Enjoying and Planning!

It's Friday!!!!

I'm looking forward to the weekend!  Things are revving up around here as we get closer and closer to Thanksgiving!  Here's a little snapshot of things in our little corner of the world.

#1:  Getting Ready For Winter
Last weekend, we finally had time and good weather to get some yard work done!  There were soooo many leaves in the backyard!  The awning still needed to come down and patio furniture needed to go away.  We still need to do some toy pick up but we did get a lot accomplished..with a little help!
You can't see them in this pic, but Kate was wearing her princess shoes!

Luke actually worked really hard!

Kate, well, not so much!

Everyone needs a break for fun!

#2:  Just Living In The Moment
I feel like we have been so busy for the last few weeks that some extra family time, by way of a professional day and Veterans Day, was a much needed break.  Here's one of those moments....super sis reading to her siblings.:)

Snuggles on the couch

A goofy Peter...he isn't sick.
He just refuses to wear a shirt and stays huddled under a blanket to stay warm!

#3:  School Anyone?
In the last few weeks, Luke has had a huge cognitive leap.  He is always asking us to read things to him, is writing letters just for fun, asking us to spell words so he can write them, and drawing lots and lots of pictures!  He has also started playing school with Kate....which is incredibly cute!

Even raising her hand!  Love it!

 #4:  A Little Santa Stress
As a parent, I totally use the "you better be good or Santa won't bring you a toy" fear with my kiddos.  Moms only have so much leverage and if I can get a little more this time a year then count me in!  Luke was being an over-exuberant boy(again) the other day, and I began the 'be good spiel'.  Big eyes and a thoughtful face...and a gazillion questions....let me know Luke "got it".  Maybe a little too well....

Last night, I had gone to my mom's to do some book keeping for their business.  When I came back, Luke was in tears.  Turns out that Jon had bought poster board for the act he is organizing for our parish's variety show on Saturday and left it out on the family room counter.  Luke has been obsessed with drawing lately(see #3)...so, you can guess where this is going.  Jon wasn't super angry with Luke because he realized it was his mistake to leave the poster board within eyesight and reach of his little siblings.  (Jon actually felt bad that Luke was so upset about it!)  

But, Luke was still bordering on hysterical.  So I hugged him and he spurt out, "Does this mean I won't get toys for Christmas?!?"  Picture giant tears and the saddest puppy eyes you have ever seen!

I assured him that it was just a misunderstanding and Santa still had him on the nice list! Oh boy!

#5:  Say Cheese
Thanks to my Dad taking a family pic at Julie's wedding 3 weeks ago, I was all ready to have Christmas cards made this year.  Thanks to my friend, Laura, I got an awesome deal on Groupon for Christmas cards from Staples.($10 for 50 or $19 for 100!)  I picked them up today and am very happy with them....especially for the price!  There's 10 hours left if you want to get in on it....but only the deal for the 50 cards is available.  The deal for 100 cards is sold out!

#6:  Shopping!
I try to get all of my Christmas shopping done before the start of Advent.(which is coming up quick!)  It's something I've been doing for several years.  I feel like it gives me more peace and a little more time to focus on the spiritual side of Christmas...as well as family traditions and lots of baking.  I want to try even more this year to enjoy being in all the moments this special season offers and not  just look at things as being checked off a to-do list!  That's the goal anyway!

I have done some online shopping, went to a vendor fair, ordered gift cards through a program our school runs every November, and I am happy to say that I am 70% done with my list!  Mostly it's just our kids that are left and my godchildren....but I like to do some shopping in stores, too, so I have to save some things for black Friday shopping!

I have lots of ideas for Sarah, Jon, Luke and Kate.  Mike, Ellie, and especially Andrew, (when he was 4 he asked for brown socks for Christmas!), are much more challenging to try and come up with something special...at least on our budget!  I am praying and looking for inspiration...as well as having Sarah and Jon listening for any helpful hints the three toughie's might drop.  I have to say that making the lists and trying to come up with surprises are fun for me!  I love trying to make my kids feel special!  I especially love when I'm successful at it!

#7:  Gearing Up To Bake!
I am almost ready to start looking through my cookbooks and recipe box to come up with this year's menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts as well as the list of different cookies to bake for friends and family that we give away as gifts.  I love doing this!  I love making special treats and I love having a reason to make lots of desserts!  I'll let you know in the coming weeks what I come up with....multiple cheesecakes will definitely be on the menu!

I hope that thoughts of holiday plans have you getting excited...and not running for a paper bag to hyperventilate into!

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

I have been M.I.A. from blogland this week!  Life just seems to be happening a little faster than I can keep up with!  We've had lots of playing and cleaning going on around here...and there's lots more cleaning to be done to get ready for winter!

With the holiday season fast approaching, I've been spending some time with my Christmas list and some online shopping.  I know it's still a little while before Christmas, but I try to have all my shopping done before Advent starts so I can spend a little more time (attempting) to focus on the spiritual side of Christmas.....(and lots of baking)!

I grabbed a photo from the good ole' bin o' pictures for TBT!  This is a pic of Mike and Ellie...my oldest and youngest (at least at the time it was taken in the spring of 2004).  Ellie was 1 and Mike was 11....(the same age Ellie is now!)  Time sure does fly!  sniff, sniff

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So What Do You Think.....

I cannot believe that it is already November!  November!?!

It just seems crazy to me!  What seems even more crazy, is that you-know-what is right around the corner.  I don't know about you, but November always speeds on by and December, with all its special and busy times, is right on November's heels!

The thought of Christmas...I'm sorry, I know, I said it out loud!...brings up lots of warm fuzzies for me on the one hand:  decorations, the warm glow of lights from the Christmas tree, special baking, perusing cookbooks for special meals, trying to find thoughtful, special gifts for the people I love.

On the other hand.....Christmas evokes some unsettling feelings, too: the hours and hours of planning for the gifts and special meals, the pressure I put on myself to try and make everyone feel special and loved in my family, and the thought of finding homes for all the thoughtful gifts the kids will receive from relatives.  While I try to do some purging of 'stuff' in the fall, I feel like I can't really purge much more of the little kids's toys. (Well, I probably could a little more!  You know, ever since watching the Toy Story Movies it's harder to get rid of toys!  In the words of Rex, "Now I have guilt!")

Our challenge, as for most families, is space.  With 8 children spread over 19 years we have a lot of toys that appeal to different age levels and a limited amount of storage space!

Then, there's my own conflict of wanting to surprise my kids with gifts they will be excited and surprised about.  This is especially true of my older boys...who are much more difficult to excite and surprise than the little kids!  For me, the little kids' excitement brings up a whole other level of conflict for me:  it can be hard to stop buying because just about everything I see is something the littles would be excited over!

Yet, I know first hand what too much stuff can create.  Some kids are more prone than others to the "Galloping, Greedy Gimmes"....(that's a Berenstain Bear reference in case you're wondering!;)  After Luke's birthday this year and lots of presents plus trips to the store to use some gift cards, he struggled with the green eyed monster for a while.  I don't do much toy buying aside from birthdays or Christmas, but even the occasional trip to Walmart, (or any other store with a toy aisle that was hard to avoid), with me had to be curtailed for a while.

My grandfather, who just turned 92, will often talk of the much simpler birthdays and Christmases of his childhood.  Without much money, one gift per holiday was the norm.  I have a feeling that they probably cherished that gift a whole lot more than my kids who get multiple gifts at every gift-giving occasion.  I think there's a very fine line between my kids enjoying the gifts they get and just getting an emotional high opening present after present after present.

I'm not saying I want to revert back to the Little House on the Prairie Christmas of a peppermint stick in the stocking and a homemade scarf under the tree.  (Although that simplicity does appeal to me in a lot of ways!)  I just want to make sure that there is balance between enjoying a few special surprises and leaving room for the more important part of Christmas.......cheesecakes!  Just kidding;)

 Faith and family

So...where am I going with this?  I have no idea really.  It's just a thought that's swimming around my head.  It seems that the thought is making a lot of noise, though, so I'm trying to pay attention to it.  I've been doing some internet digging into "non-toy" gift ideas and other mommy blogger thoughts on making Christmas more special and meaningful and less stressful.

As my kids get older, I don't think they remember most of the gifts they have received over the years.  They do remember our family's holiday traditions...like picking out a tree, baking lots and lots of cookies, and special food and time together with extended family.  

I just have to remember that when I'm walking through the store and spy that "just one more little thing"....and keep right on walking!

How about you?  I would love to hear the ways your family makes the holidays special in a non-consumer way!  Please share!:)  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Weekend Round Up!

Happy Monday and Happy November!

I can't even believe that it's November already!  This Fall has gone by so fast!

I'm going to start our weekend round-up with a little pre-weekend catch-up!  Luke's class went to the fire station on Thursday.  They were all super cute.  Here are a few pics:)
Looking like such a big boy!

Love the way he loves his sister!

with my nephew, Brayden. (love Luke's happy smile!)

Being one of the big kids!

Loving his turn:)

I have more pics of Luke not looking at the camera....!

On Friday, Luke's school celebrated "Holyween", since All Saints Day fell on Saturday this year.  Almost the whole school dressed up as saints!  They looked super cute walking to Mass together!
photo op

Kate was St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Luke wanted to be St. Luke again this year!

The kids made St. puppets in class.  Luke made St. Anthony.
His teacher, dressed as St. Isadore, asked Luke to share something he knew about his saint.
Luke:  "I pray to St. Anthony when I lose things and he helps me find my toys."
Love it!

An up close shot of Luke's puppet
We had a brief afternoon photo session with their cousins....

...in case you were wondering who was who!
I thought for sure that Kate would choose to be a princess,
but when she saw Luke's Optimus costume, all she wanted to be was Bumblebee!
 Friday night was trick-or-treating...and my Grandfather's 92nd birthday!
Jon and Peter.  I failed to get a shot of Sarah and Ellie....a pirate and mad scientist respectively.

 We forgot to get candles!  Pepere was a good sport and played along....

Luke with Pepere...Luke's middle name is Arthur, named after Pepere,
 so they have a special bond!
Saturday was filled with first Saturday Mass, some fellowship and donuts after Mass, then cleaning and organizing projects the rest of the day!  Sunday was made up of church, food and football and family time!(Great job, Patriots!)  The fact that it snowed in the morning for a while(;/) made staying warm and toasty inside even better!  

I hope you had a great weekend and that Monday is treating you nice!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quick Take Friday: Goofy Wedding Shots Edition

Quick Take Friday!  I'm sharing those silly pics from the wedding that I promised on Wednesday!  Have a fun Halloween and a Happy Birthday, Pepere and my Aunt Carolyn!  

#1:  Strike a Pose

Mike and Sarah...making me think of a spy movie.  "My name is Bond, James Bond...."

#2:  Bust a Move
Luke and Brayden were dancing machines before anyone else even had dinner!  They had SO much fun.....

Jon was a multitasker himself that night and busted a move and the chandelier all at the same time!  Thankfully he was able to fix it!  

#3:  Joe Cool...aka Jon Cool
Some of my kids like to ham it up more than others. (Cough, cough...Jon!)  This occasion was no exception!
Me:  Look at me and take a nice picture with your father.

#4:  Silliness is Contagious
Sarah is goofiest around her brothers...#badinfluences!

#5:  The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree
And in case you were wondering where some of my children haven't gotten this "silliness" from, look no further.....Jay, Mike and Jon singing to Andrew.  Just because.....

More evidence.....

#6:  Photobombs
From all directions!
 #7:  More 'Strike a Pose"
Sarah and Mike

Silly....but very fun family memories!  Have a great weekend!