Posted in Faith, Family, Jesus, Lent

Today is not Ash Wednesday

You probably already know this by the fact that today is a Friday. If Lent is about failing and learn that is not the end of the world, I am doing spectacularly well.

Between a sleep-regressing, teething baby and a toddler whose world collapsed because the ashes accidentally got on her nose during Mass (“I don’t like church! I’m going to run away! I’m upset!”), we are offering up a lot over here…and not via our planned daily rosary. Failing with style.

I feel full of extra complaints welling up within me. I see the items on my to do list remain unchecked. I hold the stress in my neck and shoulders from the lack of continuous sleep and my worry lines deepen.

But I will not be dissuaded from the process. Lent is not about me after all.

 

P.S. The Litany of Trust is breaking me down spiritually in the best of ways. I will go into more depth at some point. But, man, if you do not know about this prayer already, I highly recommend approaching it with caution. You will not be the same.

Posted in Faith, Family, Jesus, Lent

Here comes Lent!

I have a sick baby. And a sleepy brain. Combined, this makes me pretty foggy. I had a grand post planned out for today. My sleepy brain lost it. So, instead is a list…I love lists.

Lenten promises 2019, let’s do this.

  • Daily family decade of the rosary-This is my high aspiration. Vivi knows the prayers for the most part and she loves counting, so I’m hoping that will keep her attention. I also ordered her a new ChewsLife decade rosary and printed out colorful versions of the mysteries to teach her those as well. Gianna will just get the grace from being in the room and chewing on Viv’s old rosary that she has now claimed (#teethinglife) If you need something to pray for this Lent, pray for our family rosary time.
  • Setting limits on my phone time- If I was really hardcore, I would just give it up all together. I’m not ready for that. But I am ready to set some hard boundaries and focus my attention on things more important than mindless scrolling.
  • To the End Catholic Devotional for Women from Blessed is She– Super pumped for this one. The Blessed is She Advent and Lent journals always seem to kick my butt spiritually and awaken a new understand of Scripture and my relationships. I need a good wake up call and I’m fearfully awaiting one in the pages of this beauty.
  • Gospel of Mark- I need to get back in my Bible, since I did finally find it after months of searching. I had great ideas of daily rosaries and renewing my Marian consecration this Lent, but in prayer I felt Jesus inviting me to know Him better, since I’m already pretty close with His mom. I put this off a lot. As a person who earns a living from ministry, I get embarrassed by the fact that my relationship with Jesus is so weak. God the Father is my go-to person of the Trinity and I’m learning more and more about my relationship with the Holy Spirit, but Jesus and I need some work. That’s where I want to put my heart this Lent: in the hands of Jesus.
  • Daily Litany of Trust– Transition is our norm of the moment and I need more trust. End of story.
  • Writing- I want to write more and I have for a while. (Something other than my thesis, that is…so over that at this point.) I really just need to kick start myself back into the habit and Lent seemed like a pretty good time to do that. So, I’m resolving to post something here every day for Lent. Doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to be long, and if we’re honest, most days will be some sort of list…have I mentioned my love for lists? And that’s ok.

You’re in my prayers this season. See you tomorrow.

Posted in Family, Milestones, Motherhood

I really miss writing.

But I feel equally guilty for not writing here in so long that it is keeping me from returning.

These are the silly thoughts that reside in my head.

I’m going to try to ignore those silly thoughts and instead remember in the time I’ve been away  that I birthed the cutie below and the season that we are currently in is hectic. So, I should be gentle.

All this to say, I’m working on writing things and those things will return to this screen soon.

 

Gia Bea

Hi, I’m Gianna and I love to smile!

 

Posted in "Normal", Family, Milestones, Motherhood

The graces that come at the end of summer

It’s August 1st. I’m very aware of that…but summer is over, y’all. Just ask all the stores who have busted out their back-to-school sales…or Halloween displays.

I’ve worked by an academic calendar for most of my life and August, though it tries to parade as a summer month, is anything but. It’s prep month. It’s that time on Sunday evening when you frantically do all the homework you’ve been putting off all weekend and really start the hateful thoughts toward Monday morning. I’m not a fan of August.

Except that I am. The end of July/ start of August is full of the happiest memories for me and my family. We purchased our home on July 25th. My birthday July 26th which is also our engagement anniversary (he proposed on my birthday…cause he’s awesome). August 1st is our wedding anniversary. We remember and we celebrate a lot during this time, which I really need.

Gearing up for another year is exciting and terrifying all wrapped into one. We’re going to gain a family member this fall. Both Matt and I are going to be going through work changes. Our day to day routine is going to be shaken. We are going to be in sleepless newborn land again. And those are only the things that I’m aware of, who knows what else will be coming!

So, I’m grateful and angry and anxious for this time of year and trying to find a way to be ok with that. Balance has never been my strong point, but I’m getting better…and praying a lot.

 

Posted in Milestones

Top 30 things in the past 30 years

I turn 30 tomorrow and looking back over the past 30 years of my life, these are the people/events/things that have shaped who I am today. Some of them are silly, some of them are serious, some specific, some more general but all of them hold a special place in my heart:

(PS I’m very pregnant…obviously these things are in no other order than “baby brain”)

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August 1, 2015
  1. Meeting and marrying a man that is even more perfect than I could ever dream up
  2. Two beautiful daughters
  3. Loving and supportive parents and family
  4. Diving deeper into a faith I’ve been blessed to have been a part of since birth
  5. A wonderful college experience and degree (go, Juniata!)
  6. Moving to Erie, PA
  7. My first “big girl” job at Gannon University
  8. My present jobs/ministries that allow me to both feed and clothe my family while doing something truly important and meeting some fantastic people
  9. Supportive friends who fluidly move in and out of my life as needed but are never too far

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    This was also my 21st birthday…not as fun on crutches
  10. Breaking (and repairing) my right leg in the strangest fashion (always a good story)
  11. The graces of the 5 sacraments I have received thus far that help me daily
  12. Buying our home
  13. Leading several service-based mission trips, all of which have their own stories and memories
  14. Beginning (and finishing soon, God willing) my Masters degree

    hello world
    Vivianne Jennifer born June 5,2018      (Little Sister Gia born TBD)
  15. Giving birth
  16. Our honeymoon in Jamaica
  17. Growing up in a small town surrounded by family
  18. Getting my driver’s license
  19. Joining the wonderful world of essential oils
  20. The complete life of my dog, Lola
  21. Social media. Love it, hate it or anywhere in between, it’s been a big part of my 20’s.

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    July 25, 2014
  22. The weekend we bought a house, moved, went on a road trip and got engaged…and then napped
  23. Finding and sticking with a therapist who “gets” me
  24. Learning (and continuing to learn) how to be a wife and a mother as a team with my husband
  25. Discovering that I actually do like (some) writing and using it as self care
  26. My trip to Ireland
  27. Nights where I couldn’t see through all the tears…and the tomorrows that still appeared regardless of how I was feeling
  28. Family vacations to Rehoboth
  29. The multiple rejections throughout the years
  30. Learning to not only accept, but love, myself (to be continued…forever)IMG_2861
Posted in Faith, Humility, Jesus

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/

Posted in Family, Motherhood

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.

 

Posted in "Normal", Body Image, Family, Learning Confidence, Motherhood

My daughters make me beautiful

 

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

Posted in Family, Motherhood

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

I 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

Posted in Family, Motherhood

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.

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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)