Some thoughts on Maeve’s name

Maeve was on my list of names that I liked long before I even met Patrick.  Back when I started looking into my Irish heritage and reading Maeve Binchy novels.   Maeve rhymes with “rave,” and is one of the fewer Irish names that isn’t completely jam-packed with letters that don’t look like they should be there, like Fionnuala or Siobhan.  I love both of those, too, but I was a teacher once.  I could just imagine going through life having to spell those names over the phone or pronounce them for teachers who’d slaughter them for sure.

I never checked the meanings of names, though, until I was expecting our twins.  This time around, I thought about Maeve and then once I learned we were having another girl, I looked up the meaning and found it meant, “intoxicating” and “the cause of great joy.”  It was easy to see that her name had to be Maeve, as we were all over the moon to be having another baby girl in our family!

Then we started thinking about a middle name.

I thought about Brigid, to honor her older sister, and then felt sad that Fiona was not in there, too.  So I considered giving Maeve two middle names.  We like our children to have a saint’s name, too, and while there was a Saint Brigid, there was no Saint Fiona that we knew of.  Until we realized that there was one now, as our girls are surely both in the presence of God, both saints.

Then I thought she might not like carrying the weight of the names of two dead sisters with her for her whole life.  She might like to be her own person with her own name.  I thought of combining the two names to come up with something different, and for a while, I was stuck on “Briona.”  It’s completely made up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

And then I learned about Saint Bronagh.


Bronagh rhymes with “Jonah” and St. Bronagh was a disciple of St. Patrick in the 6th century.

The root of her name is “sad” or “sorrowful,” and though we did not want to impose our own sadness from the death of our twins onto sweet Maeve, my pregnancy with her was very frightening and sad, and her presence is a constant combination of both joy and sorrow.  Joy because, well, she’s just about the happiest baby ever, and sorrow because of the loss of the twins, and because of the fact that if they were here with us, Maeve likely would not be.

I wish they could all be here.

“Bronagh” sounds a bit to me like that combination of Brigid and Fiona that I was looking for, but has enough differences to be its own special name.

So as the weather is finally warming up, this spring brings joy and new life with it, and the joy of beautiful Maeve’s baptism into the Church, but in our family, it’s also a time we remember two little ones who changed our lives, who were with us for only a short time, and who, no doubt, watch over sweet Maeve and the rest of our family.

If you’re new to this blog, you might recognize that we only have three boys and one girl.  The story of our identical twin girls starts at the link above and ends…never, I guess.  I always think about them.

Their birthday is coming up in a few days.  Brigid, at least, would be two years old this May 8th.  We’ll all celebrate by enjoying every second with our happy Maeve Bronagh, planting a tree, and asking Saint Brigid and Saint Fiona to pray for us.


God bless Maeve

Our happy little Maeve Bronagh was baptized today.  It was a special day in the Tully family!

Following is a plethora of pictures with minimal editorializing.



DSCN2447 - Copy DSCN2448 - CopyI was so happy to be able to put some pieces from my wedding dress onto her beautiful christening gown.

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The dress was also, apparently, delicious.

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The boys were so excited for her.

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Father Benedict married Patrick and me, and also baptized Jack.  He is a dear friend of our family, and we were so grateful that he could baptize Maeve, too.

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Happy Birthday, PJ!

One week ago today, this little guy turned five years old.


I still can’t wrap my head around it.  My Peej.


The Peejster.


The kid who started smiling at 2 minutes old, and hasn’t stopped since.

Well, maybe once or twice.


He’s silly.  He makes the best funny faces.


He loves dancing and singing, completely uninhibited.  (I want to be more like that.)


He has a huge heart and he is so sweet with his baby sister.


I asked him a few questions about being five, like how is being five different than being four.

“Well,” he said, thoughtfully, “I can hop on one foot and dance now.  Oh, and this step stool used to be heavy for me last week when I was four, but it’s easy for me to lift it now!”  Nice.

I asked him what he might like to be when he grows up, and he quickly said, “A grownup.”  That’s a good answer, and you will be that, but what job do you think you might like to do, I asked him.  “I want to be a teacher,” he said, and my heart swelled a little bit.  Then he continued. “But people will have to pay me money before I’ll teach them.”

Fair enough, Peej.  Fair enough.


Happy birthday to my sweet boy!

Some Easter pictures




Just a few shots of little Maeve in her first Easter dress.

Of course it’s pink tulle because after outfitting boys for the past six years, I had to make her over-the-top girly, right?


She is just the sweetest baby.

And then for the group shots:









These are cute, but I wanted to try to get one of Maeve without the binkie.



There it is, and it’s super cute, but Tommy…what’s going on there, buddy?


And then Jack’s arm goes around Tommy’s neck and I know he’s going to want to bring it in like he always does.

(Exhibits A:


and B:)


So I could see where this was going, but I wondered if we might still get something cute.


















Aaaand, there’s the money shot.  Just look at those monkeys!





Happy Easter!



My little naturalist

I’m no John Audubon, but I’m pretty sure that the best way to try to catch a black-capped chickadee is to climb stealthily to a place where they’ve been known to congregate, being sure to wear a bike helmet, and to grab a handful of birdseed in your red fleece gloves.  When your somewhat annoying little brother asks, “Whatcha doin?” you should share your skills with him.  “Just attractin’ birds.”

Then, stand very still and shout, “Chickadees!  Here’s some food!”


“Anyone?  Food?”

It’s best to give it a good twenty seconds, since chickadees can be especially shy and may take a while to acclimate to your presence.

If that doesn’t seem to be working, try grabbing two sticks and acting like a tree.


Just some lessons I learned by watching Jack through my bedroom window this morning.

Geez, I love that kid.

Some spring activities

Despite the fact that three quarters of our lawn is still covered in snow, I have been thinking spring today.

We’re halfway through our third week of homeschool, and I think that we might just be starting to have some fun.  In order to get there, I had to both take myself less seriously and create a schedule for us, and I know those things sound like opposites, but they worked.  I can see what we need to do to stay on track, and, by seeing all that we’re learning in a week, I was able to recognize that things are going to be okay.  I can do this.  We can do this.

So today, in addition to our daily exercises and working on our memory verses, we had science class, talked about seeds, and planted some strawberries.


The boys love writing in their journals, so we made some observations a la Sid the Science Kid and drew some pictures of the tiny strawberry seeds and the pots after we planted them, along with today’s date so we could see how things changed over time.


We talked about the fact that the seed contains a tiny plant inside and how the fruit serves to make new seeds for animals to eat in order to spread them and grow new plants.  (Yes, there was poop talk involved.  And giggling. Perfect for little boys.)



We checked out the pollen on the tulips and daffodils we had and looked at the pussy willow buds on the branches.


And we’ve probably checked our pots ten times already to see if strawberry plants might be growing there, even though they know it might take weeks.  The anticipation is killing them.


So even though you can see the snow on the roof and the ground outside the window, we are anxious for springlike weather here and learning a thing or two in school!

Hello, Spring!

Greetings from our new home in the Granite State!


This picture was taken when we first moved in, and to date, we still have not seen our front lawn, except for a few muddy patches here and there after a few days that were above freezing.

But this morning, looking out our front window, we saw this:


We added the flag, and Mother Nature added the extra foot of snow.

Inside, there is the same amount of chaos as there has always been


(Yes, Thomas is wearing a bicycle helmet indoors.  Why do you ask?)

except now we have this cool stone wall in here with us,


there are boxes everywhere, and Maeve is wanting to do a lot more of this sort of thing


which means she is growing up way too fast and might actually be crawling long before I finish unpacking.

Homeschooling the boys has not been quite as fun and exciting as I imagined it might be, in the midst of caring for a baby and the clutter that comes from having boxes all over, so I’m either going to have to rethink that entirely or just do it sort of loosy-goosey for the remainder of this year while I work hard to get our home organized and get us ready to do it more in earnest starting in the fall.  I’ll admit I’m ready to throw in the towel after week two, but I know it’s still a little too early to make that decision just yet.  We’ve been doing Bible memory verses each week, and I have to say that one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard was little Thomas say, without skipping a beat when I asked him if he remembered our verse for the week, “Yup – ath for me and my houth, we will therve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15″   Reference and all.  My heart melted just a little bit.

I’m anxious for the springtime, when we can all get outside and explore the woods that surround our home.  We have lots of windows and since we’re on the end of a dead end street, trees surround three fourths of the house.  I think it will be great for the boys to have a wood to play in, and to watch change with the seasons.  Our last home had just one lonely oak tree on the front lawn of our newer development, so there were no leaves to rake or to jump in, in the fall.   That will not be the case here.


Our bird feeders have been visited a lot since we put them out, and yesterday, especially, it was fun to see who showed up in the midst of the snow storm.


We did have a neat experience too, as Patrick was snowblowing the driveway yesterday.  A man pulled up who was about our age.  He had lived in this house from the age of three and his father had been in it until just last year.  He’d come by a few times as the flippers were remodeling it to sell, and wondered what it now looked like inside.  He had such good memories growing up here with his younger brother that he’d hoped that a family with kids would move in. It was nice to learn that for forty years, our home was filled with happy times and much love.

There are a lot of changes going from a newer home to an older one. ( Note, it is not an “old” one.  It is older.  Wiser.  Classic.  More mature.  It was built in 1973, as was someone else who shall remain nameless and who knows that 1973 was really not all that long ago after all.)  The railings are wobbly, it creaks a little here and there (as does that someone else), and there are holes drilled right through the drafty front door, so there are a few things that we need to adjust to, but it’s a great house for our family, and there is still a lot of love in this house.  Some chaos, yes, but mostly love.

And this sign hangs in our dining room to remind us that wherever we are together, it’s home.


Goodbye, Pennsylvania!

Tonight, I’m feeling nostalgic.

Six and a half years ago, Patrick and I bought this three-bedroom home while we were expecting Jack, our first baby. I remember thinking excitedly that someday soon, we’d hear the pitter patter of our soon-to-arrive little one’s feet in these hallways and the sound of his voice in these rooms.  That someday, he’d call, “Mommy” from one room and I’d answer from another.

I actually looked forward to that.  I’m chuckling to myself now realizing that it was something I couldn’t wait to hear.  Now, it is the very thing that can drive me nuts most days.

I can remember looking into that second bedroom, which we used as a guest room, and imagining there might be two little Tullys in this house someday.

And on our last night here, as I hear Jack singing to PJ in that second bedroom, we’re practically bursting at the seams! There have been eight little Tullys who have lived here with Patrick and me – some only in utero, for days or weeks or months, while others have been here with us inside these man-made walls. It’s been home to three fish and a dog, too.  We’ve had joy unspeakable and crushing sorrow both within these walls, and have lived a lot of life in a short time. We have made some amazing friends here, and we have been richly blessed. And my heart feels full.

Now, as we get ready to embark on a new adventure, I’m excited about the memories that we’ll make in our new home.  I feel so full of love for these people that I get to call my family, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us all in New Hampshire.

Goodbye, Pennsylvania! The next post will come from the Granite State!