Monday, August 1, 2016


Turning the calendar to August 1st is filling me with trepidation! The dreaded countdown to school begins. Along with the (hopefully) slow slide towards the end of summer, comes all the mama responsibilities that have to be accomplished: summer packets, school supplies, uniforms, school shoes, new sneakers! Just a wee bit stressful and a whole lot $$$!

Yesterday, I read a good article entitled The One School Supply I'm Missing This Year. The gist of the article is this: "what if we spent as much time praying for our children as we did shopping for them?  What if we prayed as much as we planned?  What if we prayed a little more than we worried."
It's helped me to have a better perspective as I get used to the fact that August has arrived! The article offered a challenge to pray each day in August for each of your children and all the hopes, dreams, and fears you have for them this year. It's definitely worth a read and it's something that I will be doing...and I'm thinking it will help me as much as it helps the kids!
This morning I got to go for a walk while it was still cool outside! The first song that came on my phone was "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. It's quite the emotional song...and I was proud of myself that I didn't cry and just blubber for all the neighbors to see...but it did make me pretty reflective about all the changes that will be coming this year.

This little girl right here is starting 1/2 day preschool at the end of August!

Honestly, I have no idea how this has happened. I have found myself staring at Kate all summer and taking in her personality that has just exploded over the last few months! A deeper sweetness has made her such the love bug! Kate has such a curiosity about everything and still wants more than ever to keep up with her big brother, Luke. I keep looking at her long Hamel legs and her cute expression and I'm just so grateful that God blessed us with this "Bonus, Bonus" baby! I'm going to miss her SO much while she's at preschool, but Kate is excited to start her new adventure! She told me yesterday that she wants to get a butterfly backback and a butterfly lunch box because, "Butterflies are beautiful!". So you know that's on my (ever growing) list of back to school supplies!

Luke could.not.wait for August to get here! It has nothing to do with school starting and everything to do with his birthday coming up in less than a week!

We had a family party for Luke and Peter's birthdays over the weekend, and Luke got all of his wish list and then some! He spent all weekend building Star Wars Lego sets...his two favorite things rolled into one...every.waking.moment! He built almost everything by himself with the occasional shout out for help to Jon or Andrew when he had trouble with a step. Me thinks we have another future engineer in the making!! Luke is heading to 1st grade in a few baby boy is growing up! sniff! He is such a gentle giant. I will definitely praying that Luke continues to develop good friendships, is able to be a good friend, and has the fortitude to step up to the challenges of first grade. (Because most days he would rather be home building with his Legos!)

This is an EXTRA exciting school year coming up because we have a TRIFECTA of graduations this year! So many blessings and so many memories for Ellen, Sarah and Andrew that will be made during this special year of  "lasts"!

This girl right here will be an eighth grader!! Eighth Grader!! What the what?!? Just unbelievable!

Ellie has grown up right in front of our eyes!(and at 5'8 3/4", she is still growing!) Ellie has the biggest, most beautiful heart of anyone I know. She is SO loving and SO sensitive! Just this weekend, Ellie sat with Jay as he spun all his tales about his favorite saint JP II. At some point, Ellie's beautiful, big blue eyes overflowed with tears. She articulated well when she said, "My heart just feels so many things!". She's a beautiful person, inside and out!

Sarah is entering her senior year of high school at the end of August!

As I write this, she is on the tail end of the biggest adventure of her life: World Youth Day in Poland! She has been gone for 11 days and has had lots of amazing experiences that we can't wait to hear more about when she gets home in 2 days! The group she went with is finishing their amazing experience  in Zacopane, where JPII spent many of his younger years hiking and sharing his faith as a teacher and young priest. Since Sarah shares Jay's love of  JPII, getting to see his homeland is an awe inspiring experience! I'm sure she will be talking non stop about her trip for weeks afterward!

Sarah is one of the most passionate people I know! Bring up anything to do with pro life issues or her faith and her face just lights up as she talks with boundless energy about all the ideas that she has and all the ways she wants to get involved in helping those without a voice. Sarah wants to change the world! Right now! It's not a surprise to me that she is drawn to the field of speech therapy and wants to work with kids with disabilities. Sarah is chomping at the bit to jump into life with everything she has to make a difference. Unfortunately, she has to actually finish high school first before she can take the next step! Despite her impatience, in typical Sarah style she throws herself into her studies with everything she has. Senior year will be filled with 5 AP courses, trying to maintain her school rank of second in her class, being president of the Pro-Life Club, campus ministry, Drama Club, baking cookies for her friends that are celebrating a birthday or having a bad day, and any other endeavor she somehow squeezes into her insane schedule!

Andrew, God willing, will be graduating with a degree in Computer Science from UMass Dartmouth this year! He has a challenging schedule as a senior and needs to take one extra course, Statistics, that will hopefully be offered in the Spring semester at a time that can fit into his schedule!(This is DEFINITELY one of the things I will be praying about this month!) I can not believe that our second son is on the brink of graduating from college and getting started on his adult life! It just blows my mind! #dontblink

Not to leave them out....
Peter turned 15(!) yesterday and will be staying at his current program, which we LOVE! He is going to have the opportunity to do more inclusion this year and we are so excited for him! This program is everything that we have wanted for him and Peter is SO happy!
Happy Birthday, Peter!
He was modeling his new shirt.
He loves cut off shirts AND Martha's Vineyard!

Jon is entering his junior year as a mechanical engineering major at UMass Dartmouth. He has done so well that he will most likely be invited into a special program that would allow him to start on his Master's Program during his senior year and finish his masters degree in just 1 extra year. So...big decisions for him to make. He's also going to be working with some upper classmen/grad students on a professor's project. He's really excited and is looking into options to specialize in some kind of Marine Engineering. (I'm probably getting all this terminology wrong, but that's the gist of it!:) Jon was also a world traveler this summer and had the opportunity to spend over a week in Rome. He had such a great time and loved all the history and faith that he was able to experience!

Mike is currently figuring out what direction to take in his professional life. A job that he was hoping for fell through, but, when God shuts one door he always opens a window! So, once his summer job ends at the end of the month, we're curious to see where that window will lead him!
(As a side note....having young adults is less physical work, but the emotional energy is still very difficult! Not to mention, these big life decisions need to be made by them! Our job is to offer encouragement but that's about it. The "Art of Letting Go" is not so easy!)

So many times, people will comment about how challenging it must be to raise a big family. (And you can tell by their expressions that they are SO glad that they are not in our shoes!) Yet, I'm especially grateful at this stage of our lives for our big family! It's so hard to see our older kids start to pull away and begin their lives apart from us. The change in our relationships does bring about some grieving now that we aren't the center of their lives anymore. Having the younger kiddos is so consoling! And, even though I dread the days when Luke and Kate will be ready to expand their worlds and spread their wings, I figure that by that time we will have had some weddings and a few grandchildren to fill up the void. I'm perfectly happy with never having an empty nest!