Saturday, February 28, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday on a Saturday!

Well...A day late and a dollar short seems to be my life's motto!  My Friday Quick takes are a little late...but I do have a good reason!

#1:  Involuntary Penances

Those involuntary penances just keep on rolling!  Over last weekend I had symptoms of a UTI, went to the doctor's, got antibiotics, then a call later in the week that it wasn't a UTI and probably something called cytosis.(which, from what I understand thanks to Google, mimics a UTI but is not caused by bacteria and there are a host of reasons why it can happen.)  I have a follow-up on Wednesday...sigh.  #Lent

I got the van stuck in the middle of our street this week just backing out of the driveway! The back wheels were just spinning.  A fed-ex truck ended up behind me and the man was kind enough to help me shovel out from around the tires and help me put down some sand!  I was very grateful!

Yesterday, I got a phone call at 3am from my grandfather because he was feeling really shaky and dizzy and Felt that he had to go to the hospital.  My parents are out of town, so I got to his house before the ambulance came and spent the morning with him in the ER.  They ran all kinds of tests and everything came out normal.  He was feeling better, so they sent him home around 10:30.  Once I got him settled, I ran to the grocery store then headed home and crashed!  I was very grateful that my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and father-in-law helped Jay get the kids to school and watched Kate so he could go to work AND picked up Luke from school and watched the littles until after 3 so that I could take a much needed nap!  I was also grateful that my sister came to the hospital to hang out with me!   

I'm hoping for a little less excitement this weekend!

#2:  What Brothers Are For

Kate:  Come on Jon.  You are my have to dance with me!
...and Jon obliged because who can turn down such a cute partner!

#3: The Obsession Continues!
Most of the day, Luke can be found creating Star Wars ships and humming the Star Wars Theme Song.  (Like right at this moment...I can hear it from the other room!)  He loves all things Star Wars!

#4:  #toomuchstarwars!

The other day, Luke and Kate were having a Lightsaber battle...which they call "Lightsavers".:)
Kate:  You killed my fadda!
Luke:  I am your father!
(I told you he was obsessed...and he drags his little sister in, too!:)

#5:  100th Day of School
Thursday was the pre-schooler's 100th day of school!  They celebrated with a pizza party and made these cute hats!  They also did a poster board project which I forgot to take a picture of!  I am not a good project person...and forgot about it until the last minute!(bad parent award!)  Luke was talking about some of the other kids' projects whose parents had passed them in early(......).  In particular, there was a drawn fishbowl with 100 glued goldfish crackers inside.  But no pressure!  I had Ellie search the art cabinet for stickers...because, I swear, everything I glue falls off!....and all she came up with were Anna and Elsa stickers and Easter stickers!  So...Easter stickers it was!  I had Sarah draw a basket and Jon helped Luke count out the stickers in groups of 10 and glue them on.  (See...having a large family has its benefits!:)

#6: He Said
We were watching The Middle on Wednesday night.  There was a scene where a smooch occurred.
Luke:  Can we skip this?  I don't like the "woman parts".
(Jay and Jon thought that was just hysterical!)

#7:  Missing Men
Our parish is holding a Men's Retreat Day today so most of my friends and I are flying solo.   I hope it's a meaningful day for all of them....and that they come back refreshed and ready to take over so us women can run away for a couple of hours and eat chocolate and some yummy appetizers!  (I think it's a fair trade off!) 

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

34 Days To Go!'s your Lent going?  How are you handling all of those involuntary penances?

We've had our share of involuntary penances around here this week, too!

One of the things that I added into my life in an attempt to grow(at least a little!) during Lent was the daily Dynamic Catholic emails.  Some days they have been quotes and some days short videos.  I am really enjoying them!

Yesterday's 3 minute video was a good one...and a challenging one!  The topic was "Stinking Thinking" with the broken philosophies of Individualism, Hedonism, Minimalism, Relativism and their fruits...such as selfishness, isolation, laziness, procrastination, gluttony, mediocrity, and hopelessness(just to name a few that spoke to me).

This winter has been hard, cold, snowy and L.O.N.G.!  Being stuck inside for weeks and having all kinds of winter paraphernalia everywhere....gloves, boots, hats and snow pants!...makes everything in the house feel cluttered and claustrophobic!  I have found that I just don't have the motivation to thoroughly clean and organize everything that needs to be addressed in the house.  We've had too many busy Saturdays so all the inside projects that we have put off until winter are still not being accomplished!  I find phrases like "Why bother" and "It's just too big to tackle" swimming around my head a little too often lately!  It's easier to just shut a door than deal with what needs to be done!

Well, after listening to that video yesterday morning, I did a (mostly) thorough cleaning of Peter's room...which is also home to all of Luke's Legos, the little kids' books, stuffed animals, and what ever else gets brought in there!  The rug has been in great need of a good vacuum for a while!   But it's been one of those rooms I've just shut the door to rather than deal with it!

It's still not perfect now!  It's much more organized, though, and better for the kids to play in!  What I love about an organized room is the sense of peace I feel when I walk into it!

Now I have to tackle my room!!!(insert wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

Last night, I was reading The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis and something I read stuck out to me and seemed to tie into the video from the morning:  "Living Holy Week means....following and accompanying Christ, staying with him, demands "coming out of ourselves", requires us to be outgoing; to come out of a dreary way of living faith that has become a habit, out of the temptation to withdraw into our own plans, which end by shutting out God's creative action."(pgs.72-73)

That "dreary way" feels like the dreary winter we are enduring and the lack of inspiration or motivation to do much of anything!  I have given into the desire to hibernate a little too much!  Laziness and procrastination have taken up residence!  Getting back on track isn't easy!  It's certainly something I can offer up this Lent as I attempt to re-organize and re-energize my house....even though I would rather stay in hibernation mode!)

Good think I have about 34 more days to work on it!

Oh...and if you're interested you can find the "Stinking Thinking" talk here!  You can also find Dynamic Catholic here.  Sign up for your daily dose of's free!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jon!

Today is a special day!  Jon has entered his last year of being a teenager!  I can't believe it has been 19 years since he was first placed in my arms!

It has always amazed me how different my kids' personalities are and how early they shine through!  Jon was always a very attached little guy.  As a baby, he was the first child I successfully nursed, and that gave us a special connection!  He was always a professional cuddler!  My grandmother used to love to just sit in a rocking chair with him snuggled on her lap and watch movies with him!

While he certainly doesn't cuddle with us anymore, Jon is still the one who gives daily hugs and is outwardly affectionate with our family.   I think it's a good thing!:)

Jon has always been the resident teaser!  That character trait showed itself as soon as he could walk!  A very vivid memory of Jon...which I've shared before so sorry for being redundant!...was walking towards the boys' bedroom because I heard complaining and Jon came "toddler running" out of the room with a toy cow in his hand and a look of sheer exhilaration and mischief on his face!  One look at that face and I knew we were in trouble!

Jon is laid-back with a very outgoing personality!  He has adjusted well to a demanding schedule as a mechanical engineering major at our local university.  He continues to alter serve at our parish and spends his free time napping, hanging out with his friends, spending time with his girlfriend(who is very nice:), playing Legos with Luke, watching Sportscenter(he is a huge Boston fan...especially the Patriots and Red Sox), and teasing his siblings!(some things never change;)

Jay and I are so proud of the young man he is becoming!(although sometimes I miss the chubby toddler he used to be!)

A brand new baby with no name...(that's a baby name book on my lap!)
We only had a girls name when he was born!

Happy baby!
Jon with Memere on his 1st birthday

He started his Smartfood addiction early..but look at those cheeks and big brown eyes!

With his school mascot

Some Father/son time at Fenway

Jon and Marisa

Happy Birthday, Jon!  We love you:)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thoughts on Lent

1.  Cravings
Do you notice that on fast and abstinence days you are waaaaay hungrier than any other day?  Why is it that on abstinence day our bodies just seem to need meat?!?  It's such a head game!  We tell our bodies 'no' and they react like small children that find a toy they never really touch in the giveaway pile...all of a sudden it's their favorite.thing.ever!


#2.  Sacrifices
Every year is the challenge to figure out WHAT to give up for Lent! Sometimes I forget to take the next step.  It isn't just about giving up the (food, music, sleep, coffee, etc.)'s about adding something in to fill the void!  For example, let's say I give up desserts and all I spend my time doing is thinking about what I can't have.  You know that when you give up desserts, everyone around you will be bringing in goodies to share!  Then the mantra in your head starts..."I gave up desserts.  I gave up desserts.  I gave up desserts."  Then the weakness sets in and you try to find some way that those brownies or donuts could be classified as something other than "dessert".  When that fails, you start thinking that maybe you should just switch what you gave up for Lent.  Obviously your original thinking was flawed. 

There were times in the past that this "logical argument" won over and I gave in!

I've mostly gotten stronger about these temptations...and it's all about changing your thinking.  As much as I may want to stuff my mouth with whatever chocolate goodness is in front of me, I now see it as an opportunity to get extra grace out of a sacrifice!  Giving up dessert is a good sacrifice, but it's a lot harder to give up dessert when it's right in front of you! In my mind, more difficulty and re-affirming my decision to give up something with the temptation in front of me= more grace for the person I'm offering up the sacrifice in the first place! #moregraceforthewin!

#3:  Enjoy the Cartoons

Lent - A Claudia Cartoon

#4:  Hooray For Lent
Yeah...that's not quite how I feel!  I know that Lent is an opportunity to give ourselves a "spiritual check-up" and tweak the sloppiness that has sneaked in over the year.  I also know that God provides lots of involuntary penances during Lent.  While those involuntary penances are certainly opportunities to grow in holiness....they usually aren't all that fun!  I'm definitely a spiritual lightweight...something else to add to the list to work on!

#5:  A Little Help is one of many sites that is offering free daily messages to help make Lent more fruitful!  I subscribed to it, and the video that was in my inbox today was a good one!

Part of the 6 minute talk that struck me...
"Everything makes sense in relation to God's Dream. When we feel like life isn't making sense, it's usually because we've lost sight of God's vision for our lives.  God wants us to choose the best version of ourselves....will we choose God's dream or the modern culture's nightmare?"  

Yeah...I could probably spend all of Lent on those few sentences!

#6:  Sharing With Our Kids
There are so many great ideas for helping our kids understand Lent floating around social media!  It always amazes me that, even after 22 years of parenting, I can still read what other moms do during Lent, (or any other time of the year), and the Bad Mommy Guilt starts to seep in!  I am not a craft loving person!  Most days, cooking, cleaning, and laundry consume my whole day!  Even after 22 years I have to remind myself that what other moms choose to do with and for their children doesn't mean that it's right for me.  There are seasons of life when I have more energy and inspiration than others.  Being honest about where I am on the inside is important!  Even if what I add in for teachable moments isn't as much as what the "perfect mother in my head" would do, that doesn't make me a bad mom!  Reality is that a little bit done with love...and a sane, calm the best choice for me and my family!  (I really need to write that down and read it every would save a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth!(for me!))



Happy weekend!:)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The First Day of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday...the beginning of a new Lent!  In Lent pasts, I have spent time on this blog talking about involuntary penances, a.k.a penances you don't "volunteer" for that God so kindly provides.  These involuntary penances happen all the time...even when it isn't Lent.  Yet, I find that they happen quite a bit more between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday!

Every Lent begins the dialogue in my mind about what I want to give up. (Usually food related since that's where many of my weaknesses lie!)  Then there's the dialogue in my head of what to add.  (This year it's to consistently say a family rosary and read a spiritual book...St. John Paul the Great by Jason Evert is the book that I feel led to read.)

Beyond that, it's to humbly accept and work through all those involuntary penances that come up every day.  So far, Lent has not disappointed me! (lol)  Peter was up and ready to go at 5am.  I attended Ash Wednesday Mass with Peter, Luke, and Kate with only Sarah and Ellie for back-up where Peter kept being obnoxious, Kate whined because I didn't bring gummies, and Luke was just his normally, wiggly 5 year old self!  Jon's car didn't pass inspection and has a multiple item list that needs to be attended to...or a car that needs to be replaced!  Sarah got a migraine right before dinner.  Jay and Jon went to the 7pm Mass so clean-up and bath-time fell in my court because my right-hand girl was in the dark on the couch!

It's Lent for sure!  Even though there were lots of involuntary penances to go around, that just means there were lots of opportunities for Grace to be had, too!  I will be the first to admit I wasn't perfect...but I wasn't a colossal failure either!  Patience and trust are always things I need to work on!
So, onto Day 2 we go!

(How did the first day of Lent go for you?!?)

Monday, February 16, 2015

S.O.S.: Stop (the) Oppressive Snow!

Well, the 8-10 inches of snow that was in our forcast for Saturday to Sunday turned into 22 inches(!)...with drifts 3 feet +!   There is just snow everywhere!  Another 1-5 inches is predicted for tomorrow and possibly more on the weekend!  This has been a rough several weeks for New England!

I will just end up whining my way through this post, so I will let the pictures speak the story!
There used to be stairs leading out the door!

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Snow more than halfway up the sliders, now!

Jay shoveling a path to get to the snowblower!

Look at the size of those icicles!

A few more inches and we will have an inground pool!

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Ellie stuck in the deep snow!


Icicle Harpoons?!?

At least they were having fun...I'm not sure they did much shoveling!

 I don't know where the knob is to turn off the snow machine but I sure wish someone would find it!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quick Take Friday....Catch Up Edition!

Two posts in a row!  Shocking isn't it!  It's time to play a little catch-up!  Here's what's been going on around our neck in the woods.....besides snow!

#1:  Hibernation
I think that bears have the right idea!  Think about it.  Bears spend the entire Fall eating and getting fat...and it's a good thing!  Then, they sleep through all the nasty snow and ice.  To top it off, they come out in the Spring nice and thin!  Sounds like a good plan to me right now!  (Second only to migration....I want to be a snow bird!)

Okay...enough whining about snow, ice and cold!(at least for today;)

#2:  Birthdays!
Last Saturday, Mike and Andrew had a birthday!  They are now officially 22 and 20!  Now I have TWO young adults!  I'm still not sure how the heck that happened!  Because of the snow last weekend, we couldn't actually celebrate it.  They are supposed to come home next weekend for a family party to celebrate Mike, Andrew and Jon's birthdays, (Jon's is the 24th).  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and everyone will stay healthy!:)

#3: Be My Valentine
Luke melted my heart on Wednesday night!  He was getting ready for bed and said, "Mommy, it's almost Valentine's Day!  I want to make you a card!  Can you help me?  I will draw a heart and I want you to help me write "Happy Valentine's Day, Mommy!  I love you soooo much!"

How sweet is that?!?  

It made me so happy when Luke said that.  Later on that night, after everyone was sleeping and I had a few minutes of silence before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn't help feeling a little pensive.  Right now, I'm the center of Luke's world...but that certainly won't last forever!  It wasn't so long ago I was the center of my oldest boys' life.....and I can guarantee that I won't get a passing thought on Valentine's Day from any of them unless they're asking for my opinion on a gift for their own Valentine!  

I'm not saying "My kids can't grow up and I always want to be the center of their world"...that's just not healthy.(Anyone see the Goldberg's?  I don't want to be that mom!;)  I appreciate the role I have in Luke's life right now so much more because I understand just how how fast the years go by!  I have to say that it makes letting go of the older boys just a little bit easier! By the time Luke grows up and doesn't want me anymore, I should have lots of grandbabies to love! (See, having a big family with kids far apart does have its benefits!)

#4:  Be My Valentine(cont.)
 There is someone who wants to be my Valentine besides Luke!  Jay and I don't do anything big for each other.  I usually make him a special dinner and dessert....he usually gets me flowers.

Well, this year, Jay decided to mix it up.  He wanted to to a few thoughtful little things in lieu of the grossly overpriced rose bouquet he usually a single carnation for each of the girls!  He's such a great dad!

So, Valentine's Day started last night at our house!  Jay came home with a chocolate heart from a local specialty chocolate store(one for me and the girls), and a individual pack to tissues.  That's an inside joke...I always feel like an incompetent mom because I never seem to have tissues in my pocket when the kids need them at church.  That's the secret to being a successful parent right!?!

kids + individual pack of neat folded tissues=competent mom

This morning, Jay gave me another heart and a book by one of my go-to authors.  Simple chic flick type stories in book over the top heartbreak and everyone is happy by the end of the book!  Life is hard...this is all I can handle, people!  All of her novels from the past several years are mild on the romance side.  She became re-acquainted with her faith, so the more recent books aren't over-the-top steamy! I think they are a good read when you just need mindless distraction!  It was very thoughtful!:)

(Makes me feel a little guilty that I'm only making him dinner and dessert!)

#5: Vacation....
...but not for me!  The kids have school vacation this week!  With all the snow days, they haven't had a full week of school since early January!  I feel like "bad mom" because I have nothing planned!(good thing I have those tissues to boost my confidence!;)

 It's always a challenge trying to come up with something that all the age groups like to do..and find an activity Peter can handle!  I want the older kids to have fun and we have been totally lacking with doing things with the little kids!  We did so much more with the older kids when they were little!  Now, the older kids tend to dictate the schedule and the little kids are missing out!  This is the hard part of having kids at such different ages!  (Wanting to hibernate isn't helping to motivate me to go out and do things....neither is my fear of someone picking up an illness!)  

I will have a little tete-a-tete with the girls to brainstorm and find out if there is anything special(and cheap) they would like to do...and I need to figure out a little something for the littles!  The joys of motherhood!

#6:  Lent
Halfway through school vacation is Ash Wednesday and the official start of Lent!  Some parents probably feel that school vacation week is an optimum time for Lent to start since everyone home together often gives us lots of extra opportunities to offer things up!:)

and, last but not least....

#7:  Getting My "Jam" On
The biggest reason that I have had less time to blog recently is because I have become an Independent Consultant with Jamberry Nails.  Ever heard of them?  If you haven't, Jamberry nails are vinyl, heat activated nail wraps that come in tons of fun colors and styles!  My friend, Laura, introduced me to them and Sarah and I were having so much fun with them that I decided to become an Independent Consultant!  I had been praying for a way to help with our family finances, and this seemed like the answer.  As a huge benefit, doing our "Jams" has been some special mom and daughter time for me and Sarah.  (Ellie can't have anything on her nails at school, but she will be joining in our "Jam Session" now that vacation week is here!)  

Here's a pic of Sarah's nails with 'Love Spell' Jams!

It's been very exciting....and also stressful....trying to learn all about Jamberry and being stretched (way) out of my comfort zone!  I don't want people to see me coming and want to run the other way...
To that extent, I promise that my blog will not become a sales website!  Because it's a part of my life right now, I might occasionally share about Jamberry, but my kiddos and husband are still the most important part...and that's what this blog is about!:)

Here's my 2 second spiel...If you haven't heard of Jamberry and are looking for a fun and affordable way to have beautiful nails, (a $15 sheet gives you 2 manicures and 2 pedicures!), check out my website at  If you want to try a free sample, book a fun online party, (I do all the work and you get free and half price nails), or have any questions, comment below or email me at or message me at!  

Thanks for listening!  This is certainly a brand new adventure for me!  I hope you all have a great weekend!:)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let It Snow....No More!

Wow!  I can't believe I haven't posted since last Monday!  Things have been a little crazy around here!  The snow just keeps coming!  The kids haven't had a full week of school in a while!  The roads are messy...there's ice and snow everywhere...and, according to the weather forcast..more snow coming over the next few days and a deep freeze to boot!  Aren't we lucky!

The snow is really isolating.  My poor grandfather(94) doesn't want to go out for his daily Dunkin coffee visits with all his old lady "girlfriends".  I can't say that I blame him.  I leave the house as little as possible...and that's been my m.o. for weeks!  The 12 passenger van we have is no SUV!   It isn't fun to drive in the snow!  Most two way side streets are so narrow that only one car can fit down so I'm afraid to get stuck somewhere!  Kate and I have been professional homebodies...and it seems that the trend will continue!

It always amazes me that February is so short but seems so long!

Warmer weather will come!  I think all of New England will appreciate Spring so much more this year!'s to an early thaw!(or a Megabucks win so we can spend the winter in Florida!)

Come back tomorrow!  I plan to play "catch-up"!:)

Monday, February 2, 2015

A "Super" Ending

It's a very happy Monday in the Hamel house because of these guys....

When Butler made this play....

the cheer from my kids shook the house!  Jon leaped up from the couch and jumped around the house until he enveloped Jay in a giant bear hug with both of them whooping in excitement and a bit of shock!  (Then Jon remembered that his girlfriend was still sitting on the couch and he went over and hugged her, too!:)

The game was a nail biter.  There were lots of moments that made us think that it would end badly for the Patriots!  Jay walked in and out of the room during the first 3 quarters.  He spent lots of time doing dishes because he couldn't stand to just sit and watch the game.  Then he would just run back and forth according to our "cheers or boos" to catch the replay!

At least my kitchen got clean.....:)  When he ran out of dishes I thought I would have to contact some friends and send him over to their house to do their dishes!

There were a few notable quotes from our house during the game!

Kate: (After the Patriot's first touchdown)  Mommy, that man catch'ded the ball!  Touchdown!  That was good.  I clapped.

She was super cute!

Then there was Sarah, who is not into sports at all!
Sarah:(After Gronk's touchdown catch..singing to the tune from Beauty and the Beast)  When I was a boy I ate 4 dozen eggs every morning to help me get laaaarge!"
Jay:  Only Sarah could make a Gaston analogy in a football game!

Jon:  The year I was born, the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl and when I was 5 the Patriots won the SuperBowl.  The year Luke was born the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl and now he's 5 and they won!  Pretty cool!'s like all those crazy stats they talk about....It they play the game after the full moon, and both receivers are named Dashon and the teams both have animal mascots then the quarterback that ate spaghetti the night before the game will win!

I think I missed my calling;)

When Butler caught the reception, I posted on Facebook that the Hamel Family were all buying Butler jerseys!  Except for Mike...because every.single.time Mike buys a jersey the player gets traded or severely injured!

And that's not a stat I made up!

The weather is lousy here again...more snow, then rain, then more snow:(.  School was cancelled and Jay has to drive around in this mess...home care in the winter is not the best job!  But, last night when the game ended and Jay and Andrew stayed up until after midnight watching all the post game conferences and interviews(and tried to get their heart rates back to normal!), Jay said:  "No matter how much snow we get and how crappy the driving is tomorrow, I will be happy because the Patriots won and I can listen to sports radio all day!"

That about sums it up!  "Tom Terrific" did it again....with a lot of help from his friends!:)