Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wow, What a Week!

Wow, what a week!  Back to school is a two part series for me with more to come next week!
Here's my 7 Quick Takes from 'Episode I'!

1.  Luke the Philosopher
Lately, Luke has been a little philosopher!  He asks me lots of questions!  Here are some of my favorites....
Luke:  "Who made me?"
Me:  "God"
Luke:  "Why?"
Me:  "Because He loves you."
Luke:  "Oh."

Luke: "Why are you here?"
Me: "To love you and take care of you."
Luke:  "Why do you want me to be safe and not get hurt?"
Me: "Because I love and you're my little boy."
Luke: "Oh."

Luke must say "why" at least 30 times a day!  Love it:)..usually!(at least the first 25 times;)

2.  Engaged!!!

We got super happy news this week!  My sister-in-law, Julie, is engaged!  Her fiancee, Tom, is such a great guy!  I am sooooo excited for them!:)  Julie asked Jay and I to be in the wedding, along with Sarah and Ellie as junior bridesmaids...which makes it even more special!
The Happy Couple!

3.  Preschool Meeting
We had a meeting at Luke's school Wednesday night.  Luke got to go up to his classroom and try out his seat.  Then he got to play on the playground and get a treat from the ice cream truck that the school had hired as a special surprise for the kids:)
He looks like such a big boy!

4. Sports Night
Last night, Jon and Jay went to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox game.  Andrew went to the Patriot's pre-season game in Foxboro with some friends tonight, too.  All sports all the time!  Mike and I sat in the living room switching back and forth between the games:)

Andrew refused to send me a picture!  But, Jay and Jon look like they are having fun!
Father-Son Time at Fenway:)

5.  Surviving the First Wave

This was a busy week with  EllieSarah, and Jon starting their new school year.  It was definitely toughest on Sarah, starting at a new school and getting used to having a whole bunch of new teachers.  I know she will do great once she gets used to the new routines!  Definitely not easy, though.

The second wave starts Monday when we move Mike into Assumption.  It feels surreal...but more on that next week!

6.  The Surprise on My Shelf
This week has definitely had it's challenges with making sure the kids going to school had what they needed, helping to rectify problems with the two college students, watching Peter who is home until next Wednesday still(!), and taking care of the little kids.  Too many needs and not enough me to go around!  By the end of the week, I can definitely feel burnout licking at my heels.

That's when I noticed the envelope on my bookshelf with the beautiful card and gift certificates sent to me by my fairy godmother 2 weeks ago!  It was nice for the reminder that I have some special 'me time' coming...and I plan to make it soon!  As soon as everyone is settled in school...and Kate will get some special 'Grandma time'!:)

7.  A Little Change

My escape from my daily chaos the last couple weeks is to watch HGTV whenever I can wrestle the remote away from the children!(which isn't all that often!:)  Jay always groans when I watch HGTV because, inevitably, it inspires me to want to "do things" to the house....which lengthens his (already unmanageable) to-do list!  

Anyway...We have an open floor plan and I like the whole idea of neutral walls(our color is coffee) with a pop of color of different shades in each of the rooms to tie it all together.  The color I'm drawn to right now is a shade of green...which should make Jay happy since green is his favorite color.

Something like this....
Loloi Piper Diamond Green PI-01 Rug 

Just a thought...I tend to change my mind a

I hope you have a fabulous log weekend!

A Break From the Action

A little breather from the back to school adventure today.  Jon, Sarah and Ellie are all at school for another full day.

Next up will be Mike moving to Assumption on we have a little breather.  Sort of anyway, since he will likely need help packing and organizing and Andrew needed help with looking into changing his major(from biology to computer science) and changing around some classes today!

There are just so many details to each of my children's new school adventures!  Too many for one mama!(details, not children:)

The meeting at Luke's school went well last night.  He sat through 2 presentations fairly well....though he was so excited during his new teacher's presentation in his classroom that he was Mr. Chatterbox!  Watching him chatter and wiggle...while the other children were quiet and sitting...did not ease my mind about whether he will be ready in a year for kindergarten!

Luke is so excited to start school, though, that I think we will just proceed slowly and see what happens.  I want him to be happy and successful with learning and making friends.  Maybe he will surprise me and catch on to following the rules of a classroom....and maybe we will be reevaluating our plan in a month?  It could certainly go either way!

One day at a time, I guess....although this has felt like a really.long.week!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More Firsts and Lasts!

I'm happy to report that Sarah's first day at school went really well!  What a relief:)

I have not reached that moment where I can take a deep breath and sit back and absorb the changes and new routines, though!

Today is another first......

Jon starts his senior year of high school!

I think I am feeling this difficult growing up/letting go stage the most with Jon out of the oldest three boys.  I think it is because he is the "baby" of the group and he was always the most snuggly, 'very attached to mommy' boy when he was little.  He is still the most outwardly affectionate out of the three oldest boys. I can't believe he is a senior!

How does this happen?  You know, the great thing about having children close in age is that they grow up having special relationships.  The hard part is that the big growing up stages happen so close together that you don't have any time to emotionally recover between kids!

I mean, really, I let two grow up so far...isn't that enough?

I have to try extra hard to not hold on with a death grip let go little by little and give Jon more independence.  Today is just the first day of lasts.  The last first day of high school is exciting and bittersweet.  My hope and prayer is that this year is a fulfilling year for Jon.  I hope he works hard and fills his year with special moments so that, when that June day comes, he can look back on a senior year filled with no regrets...only happy memories!  

And I'm going to spend the next 9 months trying not to cry at every "last" memory!

Tonight is the parent meeting for the pre school classes at Luke's school.  Be still my heart!  This year is certainly a crash course in the 'art of letting go' for me!

Luke has a lot of similarities to Jon.  Luke is very attached to mom, has a teasing/mischievous streak that is Jon's trademark, and even looks more like Jon than any of his other brothers.  I cannot believe that this 'bonus baby' that we were so blessed with is 4!  Luke altered the course of my life in so many ways....all of them good.  Having the opportunity to carry and love a little baby when I thought that stage in our lives had ended has been such an incredible gift!

Then I blinked...and four years went by!  Now this little boy who is loved and doted on by, not only his parents,  but also all of his siblings, has a jr. size ll bean red backpack and a fire engine lunch box(courtesy of Grandma and Pa) ready and waiting to go!

As we get closer, I am second guessing myself......

Luke is a new four, and with an August birthday just making the September 1st cut-off date that would make him ready for Kindergarten in a year, there are lots of different opinions about whether kids should wait an extra year to start school.

The question of "Will he be ready next year?" has been in my head all summer.  I don't have a problem if he isn't ready next year.  There are definitely benefits to being the oldest in the class instead of the youngest.  At this age, 3-6 months of emotional development still make a huge difference.

On the other hand, if he is 'ready' next year, I don't think I would want to hold him back another year just because he would be a young 5.

I don't think there is any definitive way to know at this point.  What's bothering me the most is that, if he won't be ready next year and will have to do another year of pre-school anyway, I would rather keep him home with me one more year.  Even though he is only spending the mornings at school, I feel like I am cheating him out of time home with me if I send him to pre-school this year and then need to repeat pre-school next year.

And, to be honest, I would be cheating myself out of Luke's last year home, too.  Knowing how fast they grow up, (see the top of this post for an accurate example!), it is really bothering me that the choices aren't definitive!

Ironically, because all of the other kids have winter or spring birthdays, this topic has never been an issue before. (Well, Peter has a summer birthday but that's a whole different ball game!)

This is when I wish each child came with a parenting manual!  Right now, I'm just moving forward slowly, praying each step of the way for discernment about what's right for Luke!

Have you had to make the decision of starting a child with a late summer birthday?  How did it turn out?  Do you wish you had made a different choice?

Linking up with Shell today:)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And So It Continues.....

Day 2 of the back to school marathon.  Today, Sarah started her back to school/first day of high school adventure.  The excitement she has had for months about going to high school disappeared on Sunday as fear seemed to squash all the positive feelings she had previously had.

Jay and I spent a lot of time trying to reassure her, but I know our words alone weren't going to take away all the uncertainty.  It's too bad that 'magic mommy kisses' aren't effective for older kids!

The poor kid had an awful nose bleed last night right before bed that kept her up later than she wanted to be, too!  Despite a little less sleep than she would have liked, Sarah was up bright and early and ready to go!

Sarah seemed calmer this morning.  I know that she's going to do great!  Not that all the days will be perfect, but she is ready to embrace the challenges of high school.  I can't wait until she gets home from cross country practice to hear the details!  (Hopefully she will be more descriptive than her brothers' answers to how their first days went  in the past..."Fine."!)

I'm still nervous for her....and all of our other kids as they begin their own school journeys this year over the next week.  My anxiety level was definitely up there today...but we are going through a lot of changes over the next week so I am trying to be patient with myself.

I keep telling Sarah that it takes a month to get used to something new...and I need to take that advice myself.  In one more week, the last of the kids will have their 'first days' and we will be able to settle into a fall routine.  Their lives will hit a stride, and I will get used to their routines and work on creating one of my own.

I'm hoping I can use our schedule and routine to inspire organization in all aspects of my life this Fall!  For now, though, my focus is on getting all the kids settled into their new school year with everything they need!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School!

Today continues our long, drawn out 2 week process of the kids returning to school.

I have to say that, for the most part, I am glad that the return to school is just spread out.  (I only wish that Peter was the first child returning to school, not the last!)

Ellie began her school year as a 5th grader today!  It's still unbelievable to me that she is one year away from middle school.  You would think after all this practice that I would be used to this whole growing up process....but I'm not!  It still surprises me...and makes me a little sad:(

Ellie was a combo of excited and nervous.  She was up and dressed early today...ready to start her new adventure.  This is the first.time.ever that she is the oldest family member in her school!  Since Luke will be starting preschool there next week, Ellie will be the 'big sister' at school instead of just the 'little sister' that has been her role for the last 5 years!

Ellie did get a little teary eyed this morning when she was talking to Luke and told him that she was going to miss playing with him today!  So sweet:)

Ellie has never been camera is apparent in her 'first day of fifth grade' photos!

I can't wait to hear about her day!

I guess yesterday was a little too relaxed(!), because I forgot all about filling out all of the paperwork the school gave us at last week's open house!  Oops!

I will get it done today....and hopefully keep on top of all of the other paperwork that will accompany all of the other children over the next week and 2 days!

I hope your back to school time isn't too chaotic!  If anyone has any tips I would be glad to hear them!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Quiet Sunday

After weeks and weeks of go, go, going on the weekends, we finally had a weekend to focus just on our house projects and our family!

I have missed this so much!

It is calming to work on the to-do list on Saturday and to designate our Sunday as a true day of rest.  It has been such a crazy month, especially with Jay working on two of the three past August weekends!  It makes me appreciate this 'normal' weekend so much more!

A quiet Sunday is like balm to my tired soul!  It recharges me....and I could certainly use quite a bit of recharging!

The best part about today, besides the 15 minute nap I got(!), was nursing a sleepy Kate on the couch while Jon read(and later slept for the second nap of his day) on another couch in the room, and I could hear Luke talking and giggling with Jay while they vacuumed and played in the pool.

It was just so peaceful...and I am very grateful for some peace!

There are some moments I wish I could just suspend in time and make them last and last.  Today is one of those moments for sure.  We are on the brink of another school year with lots and lots of changes in store for our family.  There are lots of times that I wish I could put off the changes for a little bit longer.

Luke will begin his school journey...and that makes him a 'big boy' even though it's a half day of preschool.  He's excited...and I'm glad that he's excited.  It's sad, too.  As much as my children can overwhelm me at times, I really do miss them when they are away.  It will be really hard to lose that time with my little guy who is very attached to me...and I'm really attached to him, too!  I can't believe that my "bonus baby", who was a surprise gift 4 years ago, is now old enough to start school!

It makes family moments like today even more special:)

I hope that your weekend was filled with some great family time, too!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Better Late Than Never!

I'm a day late (and a dollar short, as the saying goes), but here are my 7 Quick Takes Friday....even though it's Saturday!

We went to the Roger Williams Zoo a week, actually, I'm cheating again because what I'm sharing isn't from this past week!  I guess I could make up a new saying...a week late and $7 short!(That would be true, too!)

Going to Roger Williams Zoo was Mike's idea.  He wanted to do something special with Luke before he went away to college.  I rallied my weary mom self to try and create one more summer memory.

Here are my favorite 7 pictures from the day:)

1. Zebra Gazing
Our first stop was to look at the zebras.  I love when little kids stand on fence rails!

2.  Elephant Gazing
I like the way this pic turned out of Peter looking at the elephants.  Right after we took this picture, the zookeepers got all the elephants inside to give them a bath.  Luke and Peter got right up close and watched the zookeepers scrub their legs and back.  My favorite part was when the elephants lifted their feet to be scrubbed:) 

3.  Africa Wind
The zoo had this small, showerlike enclosure that you could stand in and, for $2, would blow wind the way you would experience it in Africa.  That kind of experience is right up Peter's sensory alley!  As you can see from the pic, he absolutely loved it!  Well worth the $2:)

4. Luke's Favorite Animal
Luke's favorite "exhibit" by far was the mini excavator fixing mulch!  Mike was incredulous that we had driven an hour to a huge zoo with tons of animals and Luke would have been content to spend the entire day watching a mini construction truck!  (Later on, when I told Luke to look at the Crane, Luke was disappointed when he found out it was only a bird I was talking about!)

5.  Kate's Favorite Animal
Kate's favorite was the seal!  It would swim right past the glass where she was standing every minute and a half.  Every time she would giggle and smile with such excitement!

6.  Special Brother Time

 7.  Luke and Kate
I just love the way they love each other!

Have a great weekend!  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And So It Begins.....

And so it begins....

Today is Sarah's first day of doing cross country in high school.  I think I am more nervous than she is!  You would think this wouldn't be hard at all since I've already had practice doing the first day of high school sports with my three oldest!

It's a little different sending your baby girl!

I know she is ready to spread her wings in a school that is a lot larger and offers more opportunities than middle school.

I'm just not sure I'm ready!

This is also a momentous day for Mike!  He will be heading to Assumption for orientation this afternoon.  He seems more excited than nervous...which is good.  In less than 2 weeks, we will be helping him move into apartment style living on campus a little over an hour way from home with 5 other young men he has not met.

I have to say that I am ready for this step!  I feel sad that my oldest is taking his first leap out of the nest, but the last few months have been filled with angst and a lot of ups and downs that we all need a break from.  He needs an atmosphere with other young adults and some time to grow up by being more independent..(and hopefully being away will help him realize just how much his family cares for him and does for him!).

Big changes this fall in our home and they all start today!

I was laying in bed last night waiting for sleep to come after a "cat nap" I took waiting for Andrew to come home left me looking at the clock at 12:15!  Somehow my thoughts drifted to the word 'vulnerable' and memories flashed in my mind of the very end of my pregnancy with Mike.  I was a newly married, 18 year old college student.  My water had broken on a Friday night but no contractions followed.  A day of pitocin on Saturday yielded no real change, so the doctors shut it off to let me try and get a good night's sleep so we could try again on Sunday morning.

I was exhausted from getting almost no sleep on Friday night because I had so much nervous energy.  I was emotionally exhausted from going through labor pains with no result all day.  I fell right to sleep but woke up an hour later because my iv tube had gotten detached and blood was seeping out all over the place.  The very nice nurse came in and fixed it then helped me change into a clean hospital gown.

It was a dimly lit hospital room in the middle of winter.  (It actually snowed a little that night.)   My body was weary, so heavy and round with a full term pregnancy.  Switching into a new hospital gown in the dimly lit room was such a vulnerable moment.  That image is etched in my mind.

The next day's induction worked and our  7lbs. 6oz son finally came into the world at 2:52pm.

It struck me that his step into college life has been as difficult as his separation from his first home in my womb.

As Mike forges a new path in a world where our influence becomes less and less and he is left to make choices on his own, it's hard as a parent to know when to let go and when to continue to help.  I don't think these young adults know themselves....they want independence but not necessarily all the responsibilities that go with it!

As luck would have it...(insert eye roll here)...just this morning Mike gave me a great example of this very topic.  He was getting ready for the drive for Assumption when I left with Ellie and Kate for Ellie's 30 minute orthodontist appointment about 5 minutes away. Ten minutes into the appointment, Mike calls because he can't find the paper with the courses he needed to sign up for.  Because he is a transfer student, and doesn't want to go longer than his final 2 years to graduate, his schedule has to be very specific.  Certain courses need to be taken in a certain order, and someone from the education department at Assumption had written it all out for him.  (Almost everyone I have talked to so far at Assumption is super helpful!)

Of course, he did wait until the last minute to try and find it.  His anxiety and frustration was escalating...which rubbed off on Peter, who I had left home with Andrew.  That resulted in an aggressive outburst from Peter that really upset Andrew.

Ugh...and I was only gone about 40 minutes!   Soooooo frustrating!

Somehow Mike missed the email I told him to search for in my inbox.  It took me about 30 seconds to locate it and then text him the info.

The effects of his behavior took more than 30 seconds to fix, though!

I know that change is never easy.  I also know that with all the changes happening here over the next 2 weeks, we are definitely in for some bumpy times.

As I said yesterday, I just need to focus on....

"Just keep swimming..."

Then there's that saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!".   Oy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Inspiration for the Day!

Here's my inspiration for the day....

"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming....."

I keep telling myself I will get there.  I'm trying to shrink my life a little and only do the necessities right now since even that is taking a Herculean effort!

I just need to keep working on getting the kids ready for school that are going back first....Sarah starts cross country tomorrow then school on Tuesday and Ellie starts school on Monday.

Somehow it will all get done and we will start our new fall routine!  

I'm definitely not on my "A Game" right now...more like a "W Game"....but it will still get done!

I'm trying to stay positive and out of overwhelmed, meltdown mode!

I hope your back to school prep is almost done as well!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


After last week's craziness...and surprise...the weekend was, thankfully, uneventful.   Jay was covering the weekend again:(....but he only worked on Saturday morning and had one person to see on Sunday.

Not so bad.

Jay took Monday off...which we soooooo needed.  Originally the plan had been to take the kids to the Mystic Aquarium but then someone, (Jon), "forgot" to tell us he had a meeting at school to help plan the freshman lock up retreat at 1.

So, instead, we did some back to school shoe shopping.

Our trek out was mostly successful.  Only Sarah still doesn't have what she needs...but she did find the style shoe she wanted.  They just didn't have the half size she needed so we can order it online:)

Kate loves shoes!  

While I was helping Luke try on sneakers, Ellie was keeping Kate entertained.  Ellie was showing her different shoes and Kate was loving a sparkly pair of Hello Kitty flats.  Ellie put them on her feet and she was as happy as could be.

I didn't have any intention of buying the Hello Kitty shoes.  I put a super cute pair of brown Mary Jane type shoes on Kate's feet and then a pair of black ballet flat type shoes with a great pattern that were on sale super cheap.

Kate tolerated it all just fine...but when I was finished, she kept clamoring for those Hello Kitty shoes!  She wanted to wear them out of the store!

Kate posing with her shoes(and a mouthful of gummies:)

Jay is in so much trouble if she likes shoes this much and she isn't even 2 yet!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

This has been a really.hard.week.

Peter has definitely regressed in behavior and he has been testing me every day this week!  He has pushed me to the very edge of my patience...and then shoved me right over into the chasm of times even bordering on despair.

I have lost my patience more times this week with Peter that I have in the last several months combined.  I don't know if it's just the different routine of summer or just a difficult stage he is going through (please, God, let it end quickly) but I am more than fried after this week than I have been in a really long time.  Life with Peter is hard again like it was when he was younger....and it isn't any fun.

I think I may be developing a tic...or an ulcer...or both.  It hasn't been pretty.:(

Jay also had to work this weekend which is such a killer because he had to work 2 weekends ago, too, because he had switched out of a June weekend due to a schedule conflict.

This morning as Jay was getting ready for work, I felt my anxiety reaching unhealthy levels and it was only 8am.  On the verge of crying, I warned him that he might have to take some extra time off this week from work because I honestly didn't think I could do it.  He sat down on the couch with me for a few minutes and we didn't say anything.  (Although I did cry all over his shirt.)

Sometimes life is just hard.....

Mid-morning I decided to try and do some errands with the kids and hopefully alleviate Peter's obsessions for at least a few minutes by getting him the cereal at our local health food store and 'going to Fairhaven', which are two things he asks me about countless times per day.

I hoped a change of scenery would lead to a better day...and that the errands would pass the time before Jay got home from work.  Everyone but Sarah, (who was working), and Mike came with me(with a bribe of pizza for lunch...).

As the older kids were wrestling the younger ones into their car seats, I checked the mail.  There was an envelope addressed to me that was clearly not a bill....but had no return address.

I opened it to find a beautiful, uplifting card and a touching type written note of encouragement.  Inside the card were $150 worth of gift cards to a local spa, Marshalls, Kohls, and Ninety-Nine with the instructions "to use the enclosed cards to take some time and do something just for YOU...because no one is more deserving of a day off and a little pampering than you are."

The card and letter were unsigned.

I stood in the middle of my driveway, completely touched and trying not to cry(again...but this time in a happy way!).  I am incredibly grateful for such a generous gift.  I was just so surprised!

Jon came up behind me and gave me a hug.  He saw the note and the cards and said, "Don't cry, Mom.  That was so nice.  You really deserve it.  Why don't you bring the Ninety Nine card with us?!?"

That made me laugh.  (Just in case you are wondering, I left ALL of the gift cards home!)

If my fairy God mother is reading this post.....

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart!  I am definitely a burned out mom in desperate need of some me time.  Today was not a perfect day, but it was filled with a lot more hope because of your kindness.

Hope was an even greater gift than the gift cards!  (Although I know I will thoroughly enjoy using those too!  And soon!  It always gives me hope when I have something to look forward to!)

Feeling God's love through another's actions is an incredible unexpected blessing that I received today!

“It is often in the darkest 
skies that we see the 
brightest stars.” 
― Richard Evans

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Fairhaven, Mom?"

Linking up with Lisa Jo for five minute Friday today because that's the kind of day it's going to be!

Today's word is..........

You know when you have one of those weeks that really kicks your butt!  I've had one of those....

it's emotionally draining!

Peter is home for the next almost 4 weeks all day, every day.  For anyone that has a special needs know what I'm talking about!  It's hard.....

And he obsesses about things over and over and over and over and over....well, you get the picture!  Taking him to Church yesterday for the Holy Day without Jay and with Luke and Kate and most of my older kids

Jay told me after he went to Mass at night that the homily was on fighting against discouragement.

Ironic, isn't it!  I can't say I heard one word.

I did hear Peter ask for hash browns 600 times.(From Dunkin....he loves them)

He also wants to go for a ride to the town next to us.  We don't know why he likes driving there.  He just wants to go on the highway and get off at a particular exit and then drive home.  And he asks to do it 800 times a day!

And he wants more dinosaur balloons.  Particular balloons we get at IParty at the mall 25 minutes away.  And he asks for them 400 times a day.  Not one...but 2.  Always has to be 2.

I feel so small and inadequate.  And he tests my patience to the point of breaking when I ask him to do something...usually involving moving away from Luke because Peter plays this "game" where Peter goes right next to Luke to make him scream and hit Peter(yeah, fun!)......and he(with his 100 lb. 5 foot body) just lays there and looks at me without moving or saying anything!  ARGGHHH!  It'!

Those old questions seep into my head...Why, God, can't he be "normal"?  I just want him to act "normal" and do "normal" things and be able to do family things in a "normal" way!

And there is silence...and I give up wrestling with reality...pull up my big girl pants... and start a new day praying for the grace to be a better and more patient mom to all of my children today. Peter walks up to me and says, "Fairhaven, Mom?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weary Summer Moms

Do you know that scene from The Santa Clause II where Tim Allen uses most of his Santa Claus magic to create an incredible office party for the principal that he has a crush on?

I know..a Christmas movie reference is very random in the middle of August!  Please bear with me!

I feel like I am using what little emotional energy (a.k.a....'mom magic') I have left to try and create the end of summer that some of the kids really want/making time to prepare for the school year that is coming up faster than a bat out of you-know-where(!)/and still do the laundry, cooking, and cleaning because....get kids want to eat multiple times!

As I was trying to find some hidden inner store of enthusiasm deep inside myself today...(no luck!)...the Santa Clause II scene popped in my head.

I have to, have to, have to schedule time to do school shopping.  I actually like school shopping.  New pencils, new crayons, new shoes....I like that part.  The part I don't like is standing at the check out line with the carriage full!

Once again, a summer that seems to stretch long, almost endless, and full of possibilities, is almost over!

I find myself trying to cram a few fun things into the days we have left.  It's really challenging to do things with different combinations of kids!  Every outing feels like I'm organizing a military campaign across two continents!

Ok..maybe that's an exaggeration...but it isn't easy.  Taking some kids out leaves others behind...babysitters need to be found...future plans made so the 'left out' kids have something to look forward to.  It's so exhausting to plan that I'm too pooped to do the actual outing!

And OMG I am quite burned out!  My 'summer mom self' is this:

With so many changes happening in the next few weeks, everyone needs extra attention.  It's so challenging when one of the teenagers is talking about a struggle with their schedules and Luke and Kate are both yelling for me.  While multitasking is usually one of my strengths, sometimes the older kids just need my undivided attention.

I don't do 'undivided' well!  Usually I just walk away from those moments with the big 'inadequate' sign flashing over my head because neither the older nor the younger kids really got what they needed from me...sigh:( 

To all those other weary moms trying to make some special summer memories, I feel your pain!  

Hopefully, after these last ditch efforts to fill our children's love tanks, we will get some time to fill our own emotional tanks come September!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another Weekend Flies On By!

Another busy weekend has flown by in the 'wink of an eye'!  On Saturday, we had the senior youth group from our parish over for a cookout/cookie making afternoon.  Jay is the leader of the group and was working on making baby feet shaped sugar cookies to sell at the Masses over the weekend.  The money raised will go to our local Pro-Life office to be used for a special project.

The Pro-Life office is having a banner made and purchasing a cell phone.  The banner will be used outside the abortion clinic in our diocese on the 2 days per week it is open.  The banner will say..."Don't lose hope....", "How can we help?"....., "Text ###-###-####".

There are moms choosing abortion because of fear.  They are overwhelmed at being pregnant, don't know what they are going to do, ashamed to tell their families, in the middle of school and don't know how they will finish, etc., etc.  These moms need love and help....and that's what the program in our diocese is trying to do!

There will be trained people to communicate with the mom.  There will be a medical van with staffed with professional volunteers a couple of miles down the road from the clinic offering on the spot ultrasounds and health assessments.  There will be a volunteer from social services ready to sit down with mom to help her determine any state assistance she is eligible to receive.  There are also a couple of 'sponsor parishes' ready for the call to help with all the practical needs a woman might need....a men's group ready to help paint or strip wallpaper to help create a nursery, a woman's group ready to help purchase what a newborn needs, daycare providers willing to offer services at a discounted rate and other members of the parish willing to sponsor the difference until mom can get on her feet.  There will also be support throughout the pregnancy if mom chooses adoption.

I'm really proud of the enthusiasm of the kids for this project!  The love and service it provides reminds me of the Bible passage:
If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

On Sunday, Jay helped with cookie sales, Sarah had a quick meeting at the Church, and Andrew wanted to go and purchase a laptop for school.  We got a few hours just to hang out and play in the pool and sandbox with the little kids, too.  

Jay made a great dinner with scallops prepared two ways!  After clean-up, bath times and getting the little ones off to bed, we watched 'Here Comes the Boom' with Kevin James.  It was a funny, family friendly, uplifting movie!   It's so nice when we can all watch things together!

I hope your weekend was great and you are energized for the week ahead!  

I can't believe it's the middle of August!  I really have to get going with this school shopping!

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's Friday Again?!?

How did a whole week go by already!  I need some brakes for this crazy life!  If anyone knows where I can get some, PLEASE(!) let me know!

Since that's a long's my 7 Quick Takes from the week....

#1:  Strawberries

Jon and Sarah planted flowers and strawberries for me for Mother's Day.  This picture is...wait for it..."the fruit of their labor"!(hee hee:)  The berries were very sweet!

#2:  To Sleep or Not To Sleep
In yesterday's post (click here),  I was struggling with several night of lousy sleep.  Thank-you to all who sent sleep prayers and thoughts our way!  Last night was sooooo much better!  We still have a ways to go before sleeping through the night is a reality around here...but I will take waking up 3 times as opposed to 9+ times any day!

#3:  Happy Birthday, Luke!
My baby boy turned four this week!(sniff)  Luke was so excited!  I tried to make it a Luke centered day and played with him when he asked and snuggled with him on request.  We spent some time at the playground and he had so much fun that he asked to go back after dinner!  (So we did...along with getting a special ice cream treat for the birthday boy!:)
Love this face!

Sarah and Luke on the twisty slide:)
 #4:  A Birthday Haircut!
Luke getting ready for bed after a fun day...and a haircut from Pa!:)

#5:  Catching Up With A Longtime Friend
A friend since high school came by for a visit this week!  We haven't seen each other in quite a few years!  Thanks to Facebook we re-connected a couple of years ago.  Seeing each other again in real life was great!  (As was meeting her adorable 8 month old son!)  Ellie loved him and held him almost the whole time!

#6:  Still No List
I have still not gotten the back-to-school list ready to go!  I'm avoiding it!  With school starting in 2 weeks, I have to get my act together! 

#7:  A New Driver

Jon got his driver's license this morning!  While I am very happy for him, the driving milestone is definitely my least control and lots of worry (not my favorite combo!)  Jon is very excited...and now he is looking for a car!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Grouchy Doesn't Equal Love

I woke up in one of those no-good, rotten moods, little black cloud hanging over my head kind of day, today.  There have been several nights of 'less than stellar' sleep...and last night took the cake!  Luke whined off and on from 11:45 to 1:45.  Then I had an awful nightmare that had me wide awake at 2:15 afraid to close my eyes lest I go right back into the dream!  Then Kate woke up 3 times(at least) before 6.  Sigh:(

August is just flying by!  I have to get organized with the back to school lists.  Jon, Sarah and Ellie all start school the last week of August.  Mike moves to college on the 1st of September.  Luke starts pre-school and Andrew starts at our local University on the 3rd.  Peter starts the school year the latest on September 4th.(Ugh! With his summer program ending Friday that is just about an entire month home full-time!  Not easy...especially when my 'burnout is showing' after too little sleep!)

I'm sorry...I'm whining!  I know.  I just want to be grouchy the Grouchy Ladybug kind of grouchy!  (But I don't want to fight anyone:)

My friend, Amy Plante,(who just published her first book...a great fictional novel for teens called Lizzie's Light  Sarah loved it and I enjoyed it, too!  Click on the title for more info), posted a quote from her calendar today:
 "Love is a choice, a commitment, an action, a gift- may the spirit of God give you wisdom to follow your heart in the way of love today."
I guess grouchy doesn't equal love!  Sigh....

The lack of sleep, the busyness of the month, the lack of time to just 'be'....Jay is on call 2 weekends this month, too:(..., and all of the changes that are coming up are starting to get to me!

I guess I just need to remember.....

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:33-34

So for today, I will work on not being "Mom the Grouch"....and try to get a couple of checks on my to-do list!  (And hopefully a cat nap!)

Hope your week is going by smoothly!(and that you are sleeping soundly!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

For My Special Four Year Old!

Today is a special day!  Four years ago, Jay and I held Luke in our arms for the very first time.  He was a pip-squeak...a 7lbs 2oz bundle of love!

When Luke was born, his six sibling ranged from age 6 to 16.  It had been quite a while since there had been a newborn in the house!

In fact, I call Luke our 'bonus baby' because I had thought that stage of our life was over.  Ellie had started school the previous September. I was nervous about having a new child. I found myself, for the first time in 15 years, with no little ones at home.  Some people celebrate that day!

I was grieving!  So much of my life had been centered around babies and toddlers for so long that to not have anyone home was a really hard transition.  And I wasn't just sad..I felt lost.  Maybe it sounds stupid, but I had this overwhelming feeling that, now that my kids were all in school, that I was just waiting to die.

I had lost my purpose!

In life, change happens and I began to adjust.  I started working part time for my parents and found a new routine.  I had one morning a week when I went to Mass and then met with friends for a couple of hours.  I got to go grocery shopping by myself!

Just when I started to get comfortable with my 'new life'........God threw me a curve ball!

...and our life changed again!

It was the week before Christmas when I realized I was a little late.  I was a shocked.  I was a little nervous about telling Jay.  My plan was to wait until after we put up our Christmas tree.  Putting up our tree tends to be a less than inspiring moment traditionally.  There are no angels singing about the beauty of our family harmony, that's for sure.  With kids that love to sing, other kids that hate singing, and multiple kids in a small can get a little ugly.

I figured that if the tree trimming went badly, I would wait a couple of days to tell Jay about the chance we were adding another song lover...or this chaos!

But God beat me to the punch.  The morning before we got the tree, Jay hugged me spontaneously and asked if I ever regretted that we didn't have more children.  "Well, Honey,...actually" and I didn't have to say anymore.  Mr. impatient ran out to get a pregnancy test right away and it confirmed what I already knew!

The funny thing was that both of us had dreams that we had a baby boy in the couple of weeks prior to taking the test!  Jay's dream even had us naming the baby Arthur, after my grandfather.  (We ended up using Arthur as a middle name for Luke.)

News of a new baby was met with lots of excitement...even from the teenagers.  I wasn't sure how the older kids would react.  Teenagers are tough to read....and it had been a long time since we had a baby!

Luke changed the dynamics of our family in ways that were such a blessing!  The kids all circled around this new little baby with such love and devoted attention!  Seeing these big, manly teenagers cuddle a little baby in their arms is such a beautiful experience!  They couldn't wait to teach him how to play baseball and basketball!  (Luke was still a wobbly walker but he could dribble a basketball and swing a bat!)
Our family then...

sleeping brothers


Luke with his big sisters!  Ellie was soooo excited to be a big sister for the first time!

 Luke gave the teenagers a reason to want to be home.  They didn't want to miss all his 'firsts' and they wanted him to grow up knowing them well.  Luke was a special 'glue' that kept our family together during those tumultuous teenage years!  That was a gift!

Luke is so full of love and excitement!  He is such a sweet little guy who is definitely, "all boy"!  He is rough and tumble and loves to wrestle with his older brothers.  Luke loves trucks, his sandbox, play-do, and legos!  (Especially when he is playing trucks in his sandbox, trucks with his play-do, and building trucks with his legos!)  He also loves to follow Daddy around and build things and fix things....cutest.thing.ever!

As rough and tumble as he is, he still says to me often, "Let's snuggle, Mommy!" and "You need to hug me with both hands."  It makes my heart melt!

He is such a great big brother!  Luke and Kate are so close!

I can't believe my little boy is four!  I'm so proud of him!

I took a pic of Luke last night after he fell asleep....his last night as a 3 year old!(sigh)

Happy 4th Birthday, Luke!  We all love you very, very much!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Little Wonder!

I'm linking up with Crystal again today for Behind the Scenes!  

I love this picture I took of Luke late Sunday afternoon!  Seconds before I snapped the picture, Luke had been holding a red dragonfly in his hands.  Luke loves dragonflies!  Jay caught one and called Luke outside.  As soon as Jay called to him that he had a dragonfly, we heard the thumping of little feet run through the house to come and see!

Luke held it in his hand really gently!  (Which isn't easy for a very solid almost 4 year old!)  He was so excited!  When it was time to let it go, the dragonfly walked on his hand for a few seconds before it flew off and I snapped this shot of Luke with amazement on his face!

It's amazing how one of God's smallest creations can cause so much excitement!  I can only imagine how many little graces God sends my way that I don't see because I don't take the time to look!  How many times does God whisper in my heart to see something that would bring excitement and joy to my soul?  How many times do I put off that whisper so that I can finish whatever it is I'm doing only to miss the moment?

I'm thankful for the reminder to find wonder in the little things!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Happy Monday

Happy Monday?  Why can't the work week be 2 days and the weekend 5?

I would like that!

We had a busy weekend!  Jay was on call, but, thankfully, only had to work a few hours on Saturday and an hour on Sunday.

We had our families over for dinner on Saturday to celebrate Luke and Peter's birthdays.  Peter's was last Wednesday and Luke's birthday is this Wednesday so we had one big party in the middle!

We had a simple cookout since hot dogs, chips and watermelon are their favorite foods.:)  Jay's mom made a great dinosaur cake with a triceratops cute!  Luke especially loved it!

Three blue eyed girls!  My niece, Mya, Ellie and Kate:)

Peter blowing out his candles.

Luke looking at the cool dino cake!

Getting a little help from his cousin, Brayden:)

The boys loved their presents!  Peter got some great clothes, a mask for the pool, and some pool games.   Luke got a cool new truck that he calls a 'dino digger' from Jay's parents, some lego truck sets, and some cool dino shirts for fall!

On Sunday, we went to 8am Mass as usual then came home for a quick breakfast.  Jay left to see his patient and when he came back, we were packed and ready to go to our Parish picnic at a local pond.  The younger kids had a great time swimming in the pond while the moms sat around making sure everyone was safe and catching up.  The men were grilling and doing their own socializing, too!

A very full...but very nice...weekend!  Hope your weekend was spectacular!

Friday, August 2, 2013

And My Favorite is.......

Wrapping up the week...boy, did this one fly by!    I'm sharing my favorite 7 pictures from our weekend at the Vineyard.  I'm going to be a little different and count down from 7 to 1!  I'm so excited to show you my favorite photo that I've been talking about all... week... long!  
I hope you agree with me that it lives up to the hype:)

Without further ado.....

#7.  Mommy and Kate
I don't usually always love pictures of myself, but this one is a keeper!  
I'm usually the one taking the pictures so it's good to, at least occasionally, be in the picture!  
Liking the way it comes out is just icing on the cake!

#6.  Kate
Don't you just love those wrinkly thighs!  
I have to say, she is losing her baby chub more and more!(sigh)

#5.  A Loving Big Brother
This is a pic of Kate and Luke looking out the window on the ferry. 
 Do you see how Luke has his hand on her back in a loving and protective way!  
He loves his baby sister sooo much!  
Luke is so patient with her even when she is wrecking his creations or throwing sand on his head!
It makes me melt all the time watching the two of them interact together!  
It makes me feel so blessed to have them...and that they have each other!:)

#4:  Luke in His Pepere Hat
I love this hat!  
My grandfather wears hats like this all the time...except his are tan, not bright blue!  
Luke's middle name is my Grandfather's name, Arthur, so it seems even more appropriate to wear Pepere's type of hat!
(Note the truck sand toy Luke found in one of the stores on Circuit Ave. and bought with his birthday money from his Great-Grandma!  That boy and his trucks!)

#3:  My Goofy, Beautiful Daughter
I asked Sarah to say cheese...and she did!

#2:  Daddy and Kate
Kate was putting fistfuls of sand on Jay's leg and he would tease her and she loved it!  
Look at that love on both of their faces!


#1  Kathryn Marie
Does it not look like she was photo-shopped into this picture?!?  
The sky is incredible!  
The blue of her dress against the sky is incredible!
Holding the sides of her hat with her cute, little, love, love it!

Thanks for letting me share our weekend vacation!  Opportunities for family memories is a blessing!

Hope your weekend is filled with great family moments!

Linking up with Jen for 7 Quick Takes Friday!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So Where Are We Eating?

I don't know about your family, but a lot of our vacation seems to be about food!

Everyone in our family has their Vineyard favorites!  We tend to eat at the same places.....Vineyard vacation traditions.

The kids always want to eat a meal at Giordano's Italian Restaurant.  It is definitely a favorite.  We ate there on Friday night and no one walked away disappointed!

Jon and Sarah were taking goofy pictures while we were waiting for our meals:)

.....and a nice pic, too:)

One of our absolute must haves on Martha's Vineyard is ice cream from Ben and Bill's!  They have a ton of flavors of homemade ice cream!  Jay's absolute favorite is their Bailey's ice cream.  It's the only place we have seen it so far and he makes sure to have it several times over our weekend!  (He keeps trying to convince the owner of our local homemade ice cream shop to make Bailey's ice cream, too!  No luck so far but he keeps asking:)

My family is made up of several ice cream addicts!  We visited Ben and Bill's once each day we were there!  Jay got Bailey's every time...Sarah got Cookie Dough every time...Luke got Chocolate every time...and Jon got Mocha Chip every time!  They are creatures of habit...and take after Jay!

I made the mistake of having Kate share Luke's chocolate ice cream the first night and had to go buy stain remover to save her sweatshirt!  After that she shared vanilla with Peter.(one of the few times besides Grandma's chocolate cake that we let him cheat on his gluten/dairy free diet!)

Another fun place we eat is at Larsen's Fish Market in Menemsha.  Larsen's will steam lobsters and clams for people to eat on the beach or on impromptu tables made out of lobster traps.  My parents are professional Larsen patrons and bring their own foldable table.  Not everyone in our family are lobster lovers.  So up the hill from Larsen's is a little shack called The Bite where we pick up french fries and chicken fingers.  

It was a beautiful day on Saturday to eat outside...sunny but breezy so it wasn't too hot.  It's fun having a picnic outside and watching boats come in and out with their load of people or fish!

Peter loved the french fries!

Jon has always loved lobster!  He has expensive taste!

pretty sisters:)

...and we always have to have one breakfast at my Mom's favorite, Linda Jean's!

We always go to the Game Room and The Flying Horses!  Even the older kids go on The Flying Horses....and compete with each other for who can get the most rings at one time!  Jon had a lot of luck this weekend....he got the brass ring two times!!!  Both times he gave the free ride to one of his younger brothers-first Peter and then Luke.  When Luke stayed on for the free ride, Jon stayed on to stand next to him and.....Luke got the brass ring!!!  

Too bad Jon isn't 18 yet!  I would have had him buy a lottery ticket to see if his luck continued:)
I happened to be standing next to Luke's horse right behind Jon when he grabbed the brass ring!  I had my camera out taking pictures of all the kids and I snapped it at just the right time!
Jon looks a little intense and scary the moment after he grabbed the brass ring!

Here is a slightly more subdued, but still super happy, Jon:)

Definitely a fun weekend!  Stay tuned tomorrow for my favorite pic of the weekend!  Happy Thursday!