welcome to the club

Well, our little babe is a heathen no more! This past Sunday we welcomed Madeline into the club of Catholicism after the 5pm Teen Mass. While there were frustrations along the way in terms of planning out her baptism – everything turned out perfectly and we were so happy that we could schedule the sacrament after the Mass where we participate in music ministry. We wanted to make sure that not only would our families be able to witness her baptism but that all of our youth group teens and  band could see it too. Some of the youth have known us since we were engaged and a handful since we were dating so for them to witness our little girl become a part of the Body of Christ was some awesome, crazy, full circle, kind of stuff.

Let’s get this party started.

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I would just like to say that apparently our child was an absolute angel during Mass and even took a little cat nap pre-sacramental graces. During her moment of glory? Not so much. She was pretty worn out by baptism time and was over the matching lacy bonnet/pretty much everything ever. But because I’m more of a glass half-full type of person, her grumpiness could have been a whole lot worse and the really big cries didn’t happen until…

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Money shot. For a baby who adores a good bath we were not so into the ice-water forehead dousing of spiritual graces.

This girl is set in the godparent department. Her godmother is my college roommate, Kristen. The girl who has been a pivotal part of my personal spiritual life and fearlessly lead our Catholic group in college. I couldn’t imagine a better example for our little lady to look up to. Kristen is pretty great and can teach Madeline all about our Blessed Mother as well as the how-to’s of picking out a good bottle of wine. While her godfather couldn’t make it for the weekend (we missed you Ryan!) we were extremely thankful to have Eric’s brother stand in for him.

 

IMG_1366To give you a sense of how many people were there to support us on Sunday we snapped this little photo. We are framing this baby for sure. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people attend a baptism and we are pretty much the luckiest to be a part of such an awesome community. So many teens stayed after mass to watch and between family, friends, and the band it was a pretty insane crowd. Talk about love!

 

newborn pictures | kate love photography

Now that our little babe is 3.5 months old and things are slowly but surely approaching a routine-like horizon I am able to do things! Like actually fold our laundry! And clean things! And send out our birth announcements (in case anyone was unaware of the emergence of our child into the world)! And share her newborn pictures!

Once again, we used our fantastic photographer Kate. She’s really the best and so far we had done mini sessions with her. With two adults wanting to be photographed a mini session was always sufficient for what we needed but with a baby we really had no idea what to expect in terms of time and cooperation. Kate is fantastic and captured everything we wanted in our newborn pictures. She was so patient and I was so impressed with how many happy pictures she got during a time of day where Madeline is usually a huge fuss-pot. Enjoy!

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on staying home

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A few months ago I shared some thoughts and feelings that I couldn’t quite shake. Now that I have come to a final decision I thought I should follow up to that post. The debate that was plaguing my every thought at the time was my decision between returning to teaching in the fall or staying home.

At the time, I was preoccupied with what others would think of my decision. Would I be seen as a neglectful mother if I went back to work while having the option of staying home? Would I be seen as undriven – giving up on my career and a degree I worked so hard for? Or would I be seen as lazy by not making my schedule and my life as packed as possible.

I spoke with coworkers, family and friends and it seemed that everyone I talked to had a set opinion on this situation. Some had always envisioned being a stay at home mom, some couldn’t bear the thought of being away from work longer than 6 weeks, some didn’t really have a choice in the matter and either had to stay home or return to work. It seemed to me that everyone had taken the time to think about this decision and had a clear cut answer. I had been thinking about this choice I would have to make from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Why was it so difficult for me to decide? In all honesty, I struggled with this decision until the day I resigned.

About two weeks after bringing our girl home I started feeling antsy and isolated. All I could think about was teaching, getting back into my classroom and being surrounded by my coworkers. I was craving adult human interaction –  which I think is pretty normal for a first time mom at home with a newborn she knows absolutely nothing about. At that time I thought – there is nothing else I can do, I need to go back and teach in the fall. Staying at home is going to drive me mad.

A few more weeks passed and I started to get to know my daughter. We started to slide into a routine (as much of a routine that is possible with a 5 week old) and I started considering my options a bit more. But the thought remained…I just couldn’t imagine not going back to my classroom in the fall. For the past three years I have done the same thing. I have thrown myself into my work and my school and essentially for 9 months out of the year I have been unavailable to those around me – including my family. But then again, I couldn’t imagine not being with my daughter. I really couldn’t bear the thought of taking her to a daycare and letting someone else experience all of her firsts. The most mind boggling part of this entire process is that I have never wanted to be a stay at home mom. I never imagined this choice being so difficult.

While I was pregnant I interviewed 10 different daycare facilities. I took it on as a full time job and I saw what was being offered in the infant childcare department. Out of those ten tours I only felt semi-comfortable with one daycare. I even took our deposit in just in case I did decide to go back in the fall. After dropping off the deposit I got in my car and cried. Hormonal tears, tears because I couldn’t imagine dropping my girl off at daycare, but mostly tears of frustration because I still hadn’t come to a decision and I was tired of my heart feeling so torn.

The last week of school – after a lot of prayers, thought, and time I made my decision. I scheduled a meeting with my principal and resigned. I’m not entirely sure of the moment when I figured it out. But my thoughts stopped being so back and forth all the time and I think I just accepted the options set before me. I also considered both options fully. I have not necessarily been as happy as I could be this past year teaching (pregnancy aside) and I have been feeling restless – like it was time for a change of pace in some way or another. Packing up my classroom was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. That school was my first big girl job. I made friends and grew in ways that I never imagined but I know that this is the right decision for us right now. I know teaching is not out of my life forever (I don’t really think it can be). Instead of 20 little people needing me all day I’m going to be with one little person that I need just as much as she needs me.

And so life goes on, I’m excited about this new adventure and what it’s going to bring our way.

maternity photos | kate love photography

We took our maternity photos in late February and received the finished product a few days shy of meeting our girl. So needless to say I never really got around to posting them before jumping into labor and life with a needy newborn. Kate’s name was passed our way last November upon realizing it was almost Christmas card season and we didn’t have any non-wedding photos to grace the mailboxes of our loved ones during the holiday season. So, it really wasn’t a question who would be doing our maternity photos to capture such a special time in our life.

Here are a few of my personal favorites. If you are looking for a family photographer in the Dallas area I cannot recommend Kate enough. She is such a sweet heart and always gives us fantastic, real, beautiful pictures.

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Just wait until you see our newborn pictures with her…they were amazing! I can’t wait to share!

“normal”

Everyone always says your life will never go back to “normal” after you have a baby. That your new “normal” will be filled will sleepless nights and pretty much being housebound with a tiny little human. While these sentiments are somewhat true I have always felt that a baby should enrich and add to your life – not take away from it. However, I’m not blind to the fact that some of our “normal” family activities would have to be changed as we transitioned in the first few weeks of this little one’s life and that life as we knew it before would be forever different. Not in a bad way, not always in the most perfect way, and definitely not “normal” by any means. .

My Sundays for the past 7 years have always been predictable – my “normal.” I have been singing at our church’s contemporary teen mass in the afternoon/evening. I have always said that once I no longer feel needed or that I am giving back to my parish in a constructive way that helps them worship I would stop singing but so far I have yet to feel that. Even after dating someone in the band, even after turning that dating relationship into an engagement and a marriage, and even with a baby.

This past Sunday was our first Sunday back in action after having Madeline and taking off for Easter. To say it was an experience is only the slightest of understatements. I can honestly say I don’t remember the homily, the readings, and the prayer intentions for the week. I remember the flow of the mass, the songs, the spit up, and the rushing around like a new mama chicken with her head cut off. About half-way through mass I heard the little cries coming from our stroller and my heart started to race. Here we go mom-mode. I lifted up the car seat cover to see my bright-eyed girl gearing up to wail if I did not feed her STAT (she has her mother’s hanger that’s for sure). So I whipped out my nursing cover and we started to do our thing when the screaming cries started. A few days prior we had started this fussy business. No hunger warnings, no little noises – but boom. eyes open. FEED ME MOM. Now normally, I would have no problem with my kid crying in church, I feel like children need to be a part of the mass just as much as the rest of us and would have stayed put had she not started crying and spitting up on my navy blue shirt at the most silent part of the mass (which happened to be during a sweet girl’s first communion…woops!). So out we went to the Narthex. I heard the band continue to play, I heard the priest say the Eucharistic prayer, and there I was… sitting outside of the church, in a chair by myself, with my baby, a mom… a position I always wanted to be in but a place I never thought I would actually be. I finished feeding her and we ventured back in for communion and the last two songs. It was then that I realized – this is my new normal. This is the juggle that is our life right now and I never felt left out or alone. I was right there with my church, as involved in the mass as a new mother can be. While being spit up on and feeding someone during a homily never happened in my life pre-baby… it all felt right. It felt “normal.”

I’m sure any seasoned veteran moms reading this are probably thinking that this is only the beginning. Oh boy, do I know that. This is just one of the first new “normals” we will be experiencing as we become members of the parenting club. I just hope that I can keep this focus and flexibility in this time and on the days that I can’t (today may be one of these days – the littlest person decided to throw an all night rager last night…) hopefully God will give me the grace to remember, if even just a little bit, how so very good this life is. Now excuse me while I go and try to accomplish some things in my new “normal” sleep deprived state.

Happy Tuesday!

40 week bumpdate + life lately

I realized that I never finished out our bumpdates with this little one. Don’t worry, we made sure to take a picture once we came home from the hospital. That being said, pardon the no make-up, yoga pants and tired face!

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40 weeks and no longer full of baby – on the inside at least. I will post about our birth story and experience meeting our littlest one soon enough but for now we are enjoying this time getting to know her and learning about ourselves as new parents. Last week was filled with all sorts of firsts as I’m sure the weeks to come will be too. I’m so thankful that Eric has these first two weeks off of work. If anything has kept me sane it has been his presence and constant support. I really lucked out in the husband department.

I would have to say that our biggest adventures this week were doctors appointments and venturing out of the house without le bebe (and successfully not texting the grandparents that were taking care of her every. five. minutes). We also decided on Saturday that we would take the plunge and go out for lunch. It was our first outing with just the three of us and we went and got sushi (FINALLY). It was fantastic and Miss Madeline slept the entire time. Because of this successful trip we decided Mass the next day would probably be an ok experience as well and so we took our little family to Palm Sunday Mass. After Easter we will most likely go back to our normal grind of singing/playing at the Lifeteen Mass but for now enjoying mass as a family was pretty great. It has been a while since I have just gone to mass and while I can honestly say my attention was pretty 50/50 the entire time – I still felt myself get more out of it than I have in a while.

Now on to another week of firsts and constant learning. It’s been tiring lately and sleep is coming in small doses but I know that these days are fleeting and I want to enjoy them and remember them as much as possible because I know they won’t be like this again.

the waiting game

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So, it’s Thursday April 3, 2014.

The day before our due date.

I have officially been on maternity leave for the past two days and have been waiting for our little girl to make her grand entrance into this world since Tuesday. I never knew waiting could be so hard and so frustrating at times. We are literally out of baby preparedness things to do and it’s starting to become difficult to think of things I can do around here to keep myself occupied and productive. I am a person that has a really hard time sitting, relaxing, and being patient. Even when I take a vacation I always find myself taking the first couple of days before my brain will let me actually relax.

It’s so funny because I feel like I have been waiting and waiting for certain milestones, these big check point dates to come and go and show our progress through this whole pregnancy journey.

-I remember counting down the days until we could finally announce our pregnancy to friends and family. Making it to 12 weeks seemed like such a long wait and the two days that we finally started telling people was such a relief.

-Then there was the countdown to the second trimester. Waiting for the magical date that would signal brighter, less nauseated days ahead and hopefully a little bump to prove I was actually pregnant.

-On to the countdown to finding out the gender. Proving that my husband was and has always been right that our first baby would be a little girl.

-And then there was the count down to spring break, when I decided I would use the break to finish preparing our nursery and getting things ready in case she decided to make an early arrival.

-Then I counted down the days to my maternity leave and hoping and praying that I would make it to March 31st so that I could have everything in my classroom ready for my sub and my students prepared for my impending leave.

-And here we are… counting down the days to when this little one may or may not decide on her own to show up. This is the hardest wait of all.

But this is just another example of one of the many instances God has made me wait on His timing. Who knew that someone so small could teach someone such big things? It’s crazy to think how much I have learned from this girl in these past 9 months and how much more there is to learn. It’s crazy to think that we have made it through so many milestones and yet there are so many ahead and how more often than I would like to admit – I wasn’t ever sure we would make it all the way to the end. At times I feel like I just can’t wait to meet her, but if it means waiting for the best and most beautiful person I have ever met…I can wait, but at least I know my heart is ready.

*photo by Kate Love Photography

to teach or not to teach

…these are the two options that have been frequenting my thoughts for the past 8 (almost 9) months.

This is a post that has been sitting in my drafts for a long while because I wasn’t sure if this was something I should post about. If this was something that I should share with the internet because of the people I do and don’t know who read this blog. But lately I have been thinking about it more (for obvious-upcoming-birth reasons) and have also felt the need to finish my thoughts and hit publish. I have also been confronted with this topic more and more the closer we get to meeting this little girl and I realize that this is something that EVERY woman-becoming-a-mother must think about in some capacity.

I haven’t really openly talked about my options for next year much aside from conversations with my (wonderful, patient, etc.etc.) husband because I don’t think I have really known what I want for this next year or what my opinions on working vs. not working were. I don’t like talking about big life changes when I don’t really have an answer to give because I feel that it leaves me feeling others unfulfilled or worried. Basically, the decision is mine. We are fortunate enough to be at a place where I am able to consider my options and really weigh both as equally as possible. (However, to clear up any questions – the final verdict is still out and I am nowhere near making any sort of decision at the moment.)

This weekend we had dinner with an old college friend who just had her second (adorable) little boy and once again I was asked, “So, what are you going to do about next year???” She is a fellow teacher and decided to stay at home after being confronted with a series of decisions after their first son was born almost two years ago. She is definitely an advocate for taking the time off to get to know your kiddos and kept talking up their whole situation and choice. That night, instead of leaving with a feeling of confirmation or being able to side one way or another I left feeling torn. Honestly, I was a little frustrated because I had been doing such a great job pushing these thoughts to the back of my mind for so long and there I was having to think about them again. No one likes thinking about hard decisions.

It left me asking myself why. Why do I feel so torn? Where is my mind on all of this? Where is my heart?It also left me asking my husband what his opinions were. Which as awful as it might sound is something I had yet to do…or I at least I hadn’t been giving his thoughts a fair chance.

A part of me is completely unaware of what my husband and I are about to get ourselves into. We have a vague concept of babies and are both so excited about this next venture in life – but at the end of the day we have no clue what to expect. I don’t know how I am going to feel when I finally meet this little person, I don’t know how my body is going to be effected, I don’t know if everything will go smoothly or if there will be some bumps along the way. I don’t honestly know if I feel really, truly comfortable not being around my kid for the majority of the day and letting some other person bond with her.

On the other hand I look at where I have come in these past three years of teaching. All that I have learned, all that I have grown to love about my career choice and I wonder…am I throwing it all away? To stay home? To…just. be. a. mom. Why can’t I be one of those people who is so completely in love with this concept of being a stay at home mom? Will I be seen as lazy by friends, family, coworkers, parents of current and former students, my boss? Just because there is a part of me that wants to be with my family? This school year has been tough. Pregnancy aside, I would have to say that this year has challenged my philosophies on education more than any other year and for once I’m not entirely sure where I stand. Where do I go from here? I have always been very open and honest with myself and others that I have never wanted to stay in the classroom forever. I have always had thoughts of pursuing higher education, possibly obtaining a masters in counseling, looking into other career opportunities with kids, etc. But just I don’t know right now and to say that this is something that completely terrifies me is a huge understatement.

There are so many people I have talked to since announcing our pregnancy that have shared their thoughts and feelings. Both working and nonworking moms alike have been very open and honest with me about their personal feelings on this subject and that no matter what our decision is in the end everyone has assured me with the same sentiment: all that truly matters is what’s best for our family. I just wish I knew what was best for our family right now. I’m really looking forward to this time in Lent to focus on this big question and seeking some clarity and answers. I think the Gospel reading during mass yesterday said it perfectly and that really even if I never receive full confirmation one way or another – I can’t waste my time worrying right now:

“Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

Mt. 6:24-34

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