Past me can be so wise and thoughtful

Today is one of the days where one of my Gospel Reflections is published on Catholicmom.com. Having to write these way in advance, I always forget when they are coming out and get surprised when they pop on my feed. Especially because, they are normally words that I am needing to hear (read) at the moment.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for taking over my typing and allowing me to reflect in a way that, hopefully, invites others deeper into the Gospel.

 

Link to reflection: https://catholicmom.com/2018/06/25/daily-gospel-reflection-for-june-25-2018/

What’s going on ’round here on the 1st day of summer

The heat here has been ridiculous lately. I know that I live in the North and I know nothing of heat…but as a pregnant woman, the suffering is real. It has cooled down a considerable bit since we got a big storm this week, but I’m still going to whine about the heat whenever someone asks how I’m feeling.

And we have a two-year-old now! Vivi’s birthday celebrations were so much fun, especially getting to be with family who we don’t get to see regularly. Vivi is finally at an age where she will play with her cousins and family and is just so much fun to be around…most of the time. We are definitely in a stage of tantruming when things don’t go our way, but so far those are pretty few and far between.

She has come a long way in her communication skills as well. Her review for speech therapy is today and, though this journey feels difficult at times, I think it has been fruitful. Hopefully, her case manager will agree and we can move forward. At some point, I would love to actually collect my confusing and varying thoughts on what speech therapy for a pre-2-year-old is like, but that is for another day.

Other than that, work continues. Work in my diocesan office, work in my parish office, work at the house…at times it seems like nothing but work and my OVERWHELMED light blinks at an alarming rate. Which is probably why I stayed in bed until 10:30am yesterday. Yes, I probably needed the rest, but I definitely didn’t need the guilt that followed. And, I am a bit spoiled because I have jobs that are fulfilling and taking care of/preparing the home for Baby G is exciting but I also dream of days filled with nothing but newborn cuddles and homemaking as my only occupation. (Listen up, Powerball people, I NEED those numbers!)

Also, a huge shout out to my husband for the amazing work he does inside and outside our home but particularly with all our home improvement at the moment. Vivianne’s Big Girl room got cleaned, painted and assembled in record time and now we are moving on to Gia’s. I love that he makes our house a home in so many ways and celebrating him for Father’s Day this past weekend fell so short of all the praise and thanks he deserves.

So, between my daydreams of stay-at-home-motherhood that often consume hours of my day, though,  I am loving this summer. Time with my growing family, sunshine, a less hectic work day and easier evenings have my heart and won’t let it go.

 

My daughters make me beautiful

Pink Photo Wedding Pinterest Graphic

 

I still don’t know if I genuinely believe the title I just typed above…but I’m trying.

It never really hit me when Viv was born how she would feel about me or herself. I mean, focusing on keeping the tiny infant asleep and/or fed was more than enough for my brain to handle at the moment. But being pregnant with another daughter now while watching Vivianne grow into a smart, walking, talking, little person has really opened my eyes to my concept of how we identify beauty in ourselves and in others.

There are endless posts these days about mothers accepting and loving their stretch marks. Recently, I’ve also seen a lot of mothers suggesting that the are working on loving themselves mainly because little eyes and ears are always around us. Those little eyes and ears will soak in that negative body image you have of yourself faster than a sponge. And right now, both of those sentiments are hitting me pretty hard (and probably only about half of that is because of the pregnancy hormones)

I’ll admit, loving my outer appearance is not my go-to. I hide from pictures, focus on flaws in the mirror, and complain about my looks to my husband probably more than the average gal. And it has been that way ever since I can remember learning the words “thigh fat”. I’m not proud of it and I’m not done with it, but that’s where I find myself. Especially now as my oldest is giving my eyes dark circles and my youngest is pushing the baby bump she is creating in place of my “waistline” a little further out every day.

Recently, though, after apologizing to my husband for the billionth time about looking like a bum in public, Vivi caught my eye and I realized…she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care that my eyeliner isn’t perfect. She doesn’t care that my hair is more dry shampoo than follicle. She doesn’t care that more of me jiggles than I’d like…and in fact, she likes laying on Momma more than Daddy most days because I’m “softer”. She loves her Momma for so much more than those things and the way I look probably doesn’t even factor an ounce into that love. (Coincidentally, she also hasn’t looked in a mirror and is completely herself with wild hair flowing, stained romper outfit and skinned up knees. But I couldn’t love her any more either.)

I also know that, despite all my work and constant reminders to myself and to her about what beauty actually is, eventually this culture will teach her that she has to care. That she has to always look a certain way and dress a certain way and act a certain way. I’m terrified of that day. There are so many things I want to freeze for her now including this genuine love of people despite appearance. But here in this moment, I am settling on the vow not to add to that overpowering voice.

I will love myself for her…and for her sister…and for me.

I will stop dwelling on scale numbers and acne scars.

I will praise God for the beauty of my body that has carried children and groceries and the weight of the world at times.

I will revel in true beauty that comes directly from God and do my best to give that beauty back to Him and the people he has trusted into my care.

 

Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

~1 Peter 3:3-4

The day Vivianne raced into the world…and has been running ever since

Nature Baby Photo CollageI do love a good birth story, but I never thought that Vivi’s had enough substance to share…because it seemed to go at lightening speed! Now that she is turning 2 today (Happy birthday, sweet girl!) and her sister will be making her debut this fall, maybe it’s about time to put this story into words.

Baby #1 was due June 6, 2016. At this point, I didn’t know if our bundle of joy was a boy or girl, though her father did. Matt actually did a really good job of keeping the secret, mainly because I was the only one who knew that he knew the gender.

Being a first time Momma, I wasn’t expecting an on-time arrival but I sure was ready to be done being pregnant. The summer was just starting to get warm and I was past the point of being “cute” pregnant, though I’m not really sure that I ever was…I am not a cute little baby bump pregnant woman…I get pregnant EVERYWHERE.

June 4th was a Saturday and the weekend started out normally. Matt went golfing in the morning and I was having a grumpy day for some reason or another. That afternoon and evening we had a beach day outing with our Catholic Young Adult group which, besides my intense waddling and breathlessness, went pretty well. It was an overall enjoyable day, especially because it involved a Black Raspberry shake from Sara’s!

And then we went to bed. Well, to be more accurate, I probably went to bed around 8:30pm and Matt followed a couple hours later. I slept pretty well until about 5am or so and then my stomach was killing me. I had been having contractions off and on for the past couple weeks, but this was definitely different. I assumed I had eaten something that was making my stomach upset and didn’t give it a second thought, until it wouldn’t go away. Looking back, some of the baby books tell you that your body likes to “empty itself” before the baby comes and that is exactly what was happening.

I didn’t want to wake Matt up so I waited till he started rustling on his own and told him what was happening. He wasn’t entirely convinced it was anything either, his stomach had been a little upset as well. But after talking it over for a couple minutes and timing some contractions, we decided better safe than sorry and startedgathering things to go to the hospital. Looking back, one of the moments I’m most grateful for is Matt convincing me to take a shower before we left…just in case.

The whole way to the hospital I was bracing myself to be embarrassingly told to go home because it was nothing. It was a story I had heard over and over again from first time moms and I was just expecting it was a right of passage. But when we talked to the triage nurse at the Women’s hospital, there was no indication I was going anywhere. And, before I knew it, there was a hospital bracelet on my arm and I was being wheeled to a room around 8am on Sunday, June 5th, wondering if we would have time to make it to Mass after they decided I really wasn’t ready.

We never made it to Mass and this is where the speed really picks up. I got changed into my overly fabulous hospital gown and asked about how we felt about pain meds. We never really made a definitive choice before this point, though we had talked about it and waited a couple more contractions before I VERY SINCERELY asked for the epidural. In the moments waiting up for epidural, I do remember hiding in the bathroom because the pain was so bad and I wanted to stand even though everyone kept insisting that I should lay down and get ready for the needle.

The anesthesiologist arrived not long after that and everything with the epidural went routinely. Praise Jesus for modern medicine! After that, I was able to rest for a while and nodded off to sleep a couple times.

But then, and my husband will still tease me every time I bring this up, the worst part of the whole day happened. Apparently, my blood pressure spiked a little bit to the point where the nurses were worried and they made me lay on my left side. I know, I know that sounds completely innocent, but being in labor and trying to balance my giant whale-size pregnant body on one side was the least comfortable thing I have ever experienced! I’m still haunted.

I stayed on my side till I was very sure I needed to push, though no one believed me. In fact, my doctor had gone to get something to eat and the nurses kept telling me I was fine. I insisted a little more until a nurse finally checked, and confirmed, that it was go time, much quicker than anyone had imagined. In fact, most of the nurses were amazed at how quickly the process was happening for a first timer like me. Naturally, I assumed I could now lay on my back like a normal person but no, the side laying, and now pushing, torture continued.

There was a blur of yelling and crying and finally being able to lay on my back while clutching Matt’s hand and then…there was a baby girl. A beautiful, little baby girl laying in my arms who proceeded to empty herself all over me. But I didn’t care. Vivianne was here and she was perfect. And she wanted to be here in the fastest way possible. AT 12:16pm on Sunday, June 5th, we became a family of 3.

I needed some repair work due to the speed with which my firstborn barreled into the world, so Matt and Vivi got some special bonding time while I was in the OR. I honestly think that is why they have such a strong bond to this day.

We were then moved to another  suite to rest and start this new part of our family life together. Lots of visitors and well wishes followed while we were in the hospital the next 2 days, learning all the things about parenthood that don’t make sense until you are in the moment including Matt’s first diaper change and breastfeeding lessons for me. It was hard and beautiful, long and short all at the same time.

And now, two years later, it’s hard to even remember what having a newborn is like, though I imagine we will pick it up well when our Gia is here. The first labor went so fast (no complaints here, though) that I seemed to forget all the things I read and the experiences I wanted to have and the prayers I wanted to pray. But that didn’t make this day any less special or beautiful. Maybe I’ll remember a Hail Mary or two the next time around or maybe it will be quicker. Either way, I am grateful for the experience of Vivianne’s birth and even more thankful for the little girl that was the result of that fast-paced day.

Happy birthday, Vivi. Momma loves you so very much.

hello world

A pretty Monday-ish Tuesday

Yesterday was Memorial Day and I haven’t been in an office (or in front of an actual computer screen…sorry thesis!) since Wednesday…today is rough! Not to mention it is gorgeous outside and I can only view it from my window. Boo!

This holiday weekend we took a quick-ish road trip to visit my brother-in-law which contained a longer than normal drive for Vivi, but she was amazing. I drove both ways and was seriously so impressed at how well my little big girl did during the 5 hours each way. I think the fact that we just turned her car seat to face forward had a big part to do with it. That and the glorious invention of the portable DVD player.

My in-laws joined us for part of the trip which was really good for Viv to spend a lot of time with Matt’s side of the family. These visits still cause me some anxiety but I’d like to think I’m getting better. Matt would probably disagree. Baby steps.

Monday was a really good family day at home. The 4 of us went to the zoo which is our new favorite hang-out of the moment. Vivi really loves the statue of a dog and random gazebo while we try to point out the lions and monkeys. As long as she’s having fun, I guess. We came home with Leo, the lion and he has been roaring ever since.

gazebo.jpg

Lots of things coming up on the docket including moving (NOT houses…just rooms), renovations and, hopefully, LOTS of writing…I need the thesis monkey off my back.

Looking forward to more sharing and more openness and more sunshine!

(Though, fair warning, I see my therapist tomorrow, so bring on all the emotions haha)

 

St. Gianna knows more than I do

So, I’ll let her talk to you today.

St. Gianna, pray for us.

“Lord, keep Your grace in my heart. Live in me so that Your grace be mine. Make it that I may bear every day some flowers and new fruit”.

“When one does one’s own duty, one must not be concerned, because God’s help will not be lacking”.

“One cannot love without suffering or suffer without loving”.

“Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy and strong”.

“0 Mary, into your maternal hands I place myself and I abandon myself completely, sure of obtaining whatever I ask of you. I trust in you because you are the sweet Mother, I confide in you because you are the Mother of Jesus. In this trust I place myself, sure of being heard in everything; with this trust in my heart I greet you “my Mother, my trust”, I devote myself entirely to you, begging you to remember that I am yours, that I belong to you; keep me and defend me, 0 sweet Mary, and in every instant of my life, present me to your Son, Jesus”.

Amen

Smile-makers of the Moment

I feel like things have been a little (unintentionally!) dreary and serious on here lately. So, let’s start a new recurring list of things that currently brighten my days!

  1. Lemongrass + Bergamot diffuser blend

    eos.jpgI am in LOVE with the smell of Lemongrass lately. It feels so fresh and summery and uplifting. Definitely a keeper! (Also, I feel a longer post on how much I love EOs coming soon!)

  2. My Mother’s Day necklace

    necklace.jpgI already mentioned this necklace once but it is worth another visit. Yes, I did send the EXACT thing I wanted to my husband but he still pulled it off. All of Rakstar Designs things are so pretty and high on my “remember you must not buy all things at one time” list. You can find the Etsy shop here.

  3. Netflix’s Evil Genius

    We’ve already binged the whole thing, but I could watch it again and again. Yes, the main thrust behind pushing play was that we are Erie residents (though this particular event happened before I moved to Erie) it really does suck you in. The documentary is really well made but can be a little much at points (no one needs to actually see the collar bomb detonate, movie makers)  And being able to spot familiar places on something “famous” is always a plus.

  4. These sandals

    Sanrah Wedge SandalYes, they are Crocs. Yes, they are pretty much glorified flip flops, but for this pregnant swollen-footed Momma, they are currently a saving grace. Just dressy enough to wear to work and comfortable enough to endure the entire day. I can guarantee I will get my moment out of these babies.

  5. Mango Bubly

    I love sparkling water. And, I definitely loved it before it was cool #hipster. I used to only go for the generic unflavored cans from the grocery store until I discovered a couple flavors of La Croix that weren’t too sweet, mango being one of them. I picked up a case of Bubly due to the lower price this week and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. Bubbles, here I come!

  6. Made for This: The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Birth

    I am going pretty slow and steady on this book since I’m STILL supposed to be working on my thesis (like, at this very moment, I should probably be writing), but I’m finding it to be so empowering. With Vivi, I definitely was a little scared of giving birth since I had never done it before. But, now that I’m a veteran, I like the idea of feeling more control and connected to the experience. And I’m definitely wanting to have a more intentionally spiritual experience with Gianna, but we shall see. Overall, it’s a great read and definitely helping me get ready for September.

  7. Bump Boxes

    IMG_1077

    I’m a subscription box addict. I think I just really like 1) getting mail and 2) being surprised by what’s in that mail. I originally ordered this for my sister-in-law as a baby present but was then surprised with my own box by my mom a couple months later (Thanks, Causie!) I’ve received two so far and they are so fun! I’m currently loving the sonogram frame that came in my latest pack.

  8. This water bottle (hydration is key!)

         I’ve had this for a couple months and am still in love. It’s the perfect size to carry around all day and make sure baby and I are getting plenty of water. I also really wanted a glass water bottle to escape those nasty plastic bottles I’ve been dragging around for a while and so I could also add some yummy oils to my water (lemon water is my non-bubbly jam)

  9. Guilty pleasure Youtube videos

    I gave up Youtube for Lent this year and it was very eye-opening to discover how much time I spend on the site. In particular, I love makeup/lifestyle videos, which is so not me. But we have guilty pleasures for a reason, right?  In fact, I found myself missing Dani from Coffee Break with Dani while I was away (Happy 5th anniversary, btw!) So catching up with all my online video friends has been quite fun!

  10. Podcasts

    I couldn’t pick just one here. I love all of the podcasts that I currently subscribe to and am always looking for more. They are great to listen to while I work around the house or in my very quiet office. Current faves include The Catholic Feminist, Among the Lilies, and While You Were Folding…love me some strong Catholic ladies on the airwaves!

I am a horrible person…an ongoing saga

This thought runs through my mind several times a day. Sometimes several times an hour. Most recently, I overheard a coworker talking about how wonderful her daughter, someone I know, is at being a working mother and reflecting deeply on her experiences and on and on and on. She is a proud mom, I get that. But my automatic response was 1)Insecurity 2)Inadequacy 3)Jealousy 4)Anger.  These are old friends who visit me often…and I hate them.

IIJA (I don’t feel like writing the words every time so let’s go with this) is something that pushes me in a hole that takes me forever to work my way out of and has so many triggers. My housemates, people from my past, my saint of a husband, work criticisms…really anything. I’m so susceptible to these enemy attacks.

And I know without a doubt that is exactly what it is: an Enemy attack. And, boy, is he good at it.

I haven’t figured out a good counter-attack yet. I’m trying my best to pray for those who trigger me and hold the spotlight of my anger. I’m trying my best to “keep my eyes on my own paper”. I’m trying my best to love myself as God loves me.

I’m trying. I’m usually failing. But, with the loving support of my family, I move forward and try again.

Pray for me as I pray for you.

Mother’s Day weekend 2018

I “millennial read” (ie saw the headline and read the first paragraph) of an article that claimed that the woman who founded Mother’s Day kind of regretted starting the day after all was said and done. I sympathize. This was my 3rd total Mother’s Day, 2nd with a baby outside the womb, and probably the best experience so far.

Last year, the tension in my marriage and family life was so high, I spent more of the day crying than smiling. My expectations this year, then, were super low.

And in all honesty, it wasn’t like I magically got everything I’ve ever dreamed of this year, but something felt different, felt better. We were in a better place as a family definitely, but I think, more than that, I was in a different place spiritually.

I’m trying to be open and trusting right now in my life and it is the one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever taken on. To be honest, I’m failing more than I’m flying. Closing my true self off to the world has apparently been my MO for a while. Old habits die hard.

But, as the wonderful gifts my hubby (and my girls) got for me indicate, though I still need a lot of interior work, I have some awesome guides to lean on along the way.

IMG_1065.jpg

Day-to day-mothering isn’t easy. Life isn’t easy. But, boy, it’s worth it, even just to see my (almost!) two-year-old pretending to be a duck at a spontaneous zoo trip or the simple Mass and brunch as a family that started our Sunday.

I am truly blessed.

 

I think the Devil lives in my shower

There are many people and things (we just caught a mouse not long ago…yuck) that live in my house. Most of them I love. Most of them are harmless and I can deal with reasonably well. But not the one that lives in my shower.

Admittedly, I don’t clean my shower as often as I should. Any sort of cleaning that happens in the bathroom usually falls at the end of my to do list out of sheer distaste for the chore.But it isn’t the filth that accumulates on the walls and floor of the shower that gets to me. It’s the Devil that lives there.

It happens every time. Armed with spray bottles, brushes, paper towels and the thought that we cannot possibly go one more day with the shower in the state that it is in, I prepare for battle. Without fail, I get frustrated. (*spray, spray*)And angry. (*scrub,scrub,scrub*)And mean.(*SCRUB, SCRUB, SCRUB*)  I tell myself that no one else cares about the state of the house. I’m the only one who ever does anything.(*VIOLENT OUTBURST OF THROWING DIRTY PAPER TOWELS*) Every person in my life is ungrateful. I have long, drawn-out fights with my husband, who isn’t even in the house. I turn into an ugly, utterly selfish and inconsolable brat.

The feeling lasts for a while. I marvel at how beautiful our shower can actually be normally while forcing back tears of anger. I put away my cleaning supplies and find something else wrong with the house to be angry about. Eventually, my anger turns into sadness and despair and I can only focus on the negative parts of each day and of myself. Flaws abound and I convince my self of my utter worthlessness. I have the very bad habit of letting these, among other, moods force me into a black hole that takes me a while to climb out of on my own.

I hate the person that this ritual turns me into but I still haven’t found a way to avoid it besides actually letting the shower fall to pieces.

I cleaned our shower yesterday. I’m just now finding myself starting to  come out of the hole.

Lord, have mercy.