READ | Head & Heart {book review + giveaway!}

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Lately, with the holidays and a toddler who sleeps consistently (finally!) time has allowed me to dive into a few good reads. It’s a part of my 2016 goals to try and attempt finishing one book a month which I think is an attainable – depending on the book. I have been gathering a nice long list over the past few months of recommendations from friends, other blogs, and stories that have caught my eye while sifting through the shelves at local book stores and libraries. A few months ago, I saw a title a floating around a few Catholic circles I’m involved in that sparked my interest. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this (really awesome, but we’ll get to the review in a second) book to read and share about in the hopes that it can give you the same inspiration it has given me.

Let me start this post off by saying that I have always been a fan the non-fiction, self-help book genre (which may explain my degree in psychology). I’ve always loved learning practical steps that I can apply in the daily practices of my own life that will hopefully lead me to becoming a better person. I love reading books that leave me inspired, refreshed, and ready for a change whether that be big or small. The Head and Heart is a practical spiritual guide written by Katie Warner that is filled with concrete steps that I can easily add to my daily practices.

An area in my life that has been lacking lately is major spiritual growth in my relationship with my husband. Sure, day to day we pray for each other when there is something big going on in the others life and when we remember (or stay awake long enough) we pray with each other before falling asleep at night. These are all really great things and I’m sure more than some couples do on a regular basis – however, for us it seems like we are meeting the bare minimum requirements of a couple’s prayer life together. We aren’t necessarily finding challenging ways or new innovative ways to pray with and for each other so we haven’t been seeing a very drastic change in our spiritual life together.

In comes this book. It really was delivered into my hands at the perfect time – right around the time I was having this realization that our prayer life was dwindling and right before my husband went on his annual silent retreat. I was able to read the book before he left for his few prayer filled days and he was able to read it while on retreat. We have both come away after reading this book with a refreshed sense of what we both need and desire to do for the spiritual growth needed in our marriage.

I think what I loved most about this book was that it broke down the spiritual roles of men and women in relationships so concretely and specifically; explaining why females and males are drawn to providing spiritually in certain ways. It can be tough being an active practicing Catholic today’s culture. Especially as a woman, when I feel like the media and the world is shouting at us to be independent to the point of shutting ourselves off from any help, even more so when that help is provided by a man. But as a woman I have always felt the need to be spiritually lead. I have a hard time keeping tabs on my own prayer life and need the reminder of another human person to keep me accountable. I’ve always felt a little self conscious about this personality trait of mine until reading this book when I realized that craving spiritual leadership and guidance from my husband is natural, normal, completely acceptable!

Another tidbit from the book that I think both Eric and myself benefitted from was the reminder it provided that prayer doesn’t have to be this beautifully eloquent production in order to be worthwhile. I have always thought that if I don’t journal at the end of the day or make time for some lengthy form of prayer every day that somehow my small and constant conversation with God throughout the day didn’t count. Often times the fear of providing inadequate prayer for my spouse is what keeps me from praying out loud with him – when I just need to remember that anything, no matter if it is a single Hail Mary or a sleepy ramble of intentions at the end of the day, is a beautiful and decent prayer in the eyes of God.

I thought it was only fair that the husband had a chance to share his thoughts on the book in case you are interested in a guy’s perspective (or if you are met with some resistance from your spouse about this book – maybe an alternate viewpoint might help;):

I have never really been drawn to self-help type books, usually preferring fiction, or non-fiction that educates me about the world around me – but as its title hints, Head and Heart really does have something for everyone.  The way the complementary roles of husbands and wives were described really resonated with me – and kept me reading with an open mind to learn something new about myself, and my marriage.

A standout feature of the book is twofold – the author suggests, and even insists that you don’t try everything in the book at once, and each area has tiered options for improvement, based on your current proficiency or comfort in that area.  I was able to pick and choose the pieces that were relevant and at my level, without feeling the need to follow a one size fits all path all the way through the book, which really helped me act on the content in a meaningful way.

This book would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s Lent plans this year or a great Valentine’s present to give to your spouse and work through together! I really cannot recommend it enough. It’s a book that has brought some much needed inspiration to our life as a couple and I hope that it can do the same for you!

If you want to win your own free copy of this book leave a comment below and a winner will be picked next Thursday February 4th. Happy reading!

**CONGRATS SHARON! I will be contacting you about your free copy! (: **

 

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3 years

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This summer we have been fortunate enough to celebrate weddings and new marriages of family and close friends. I don’t think I am alone in loving a good wedding celebration. It reminds me of our wedding and fills me with all of the warm, fuzzy, butterfly feelings that I tend to have when thinking back on the day that started our journey down this exciting, unpredictable road called marriage.

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I remember before we were married, before we were engaged – seeing married couples at weddings and wondering what they could be thinking about. Watching them sway back and forth on the dance floor and stare lovingly into each others eyes. It always filled my heart to the brim with emotion. I wanted to be married one day and I wanted to be one of those couples on the dance floor, so in love with each other. While I am still practically a newlywed and my wealth of marital wisdom is relatively low – I think I am starting to realize that the looks those couples were giving each other were more so out of appreciation, admiration, and respect that any lovey-dovey-emotionally-fueled-feelings that I was probably experiencing as an onlooker.

Honestly, this third year of marriage has been by far the most challenging. New jobs, new roles, new home, parenting, growing, moving… so needless to say the past 365 days weren’t without stress or moments of anxiety. Something else the past year wasn’t lacking was a partner to weather the storm. Solid, unwavering, supportive, true. Sometimes I just can’t believe that my husband has continued to love me through it all.

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So much life has happened since August 4, 2012 and I hate to sound cliche but I really didn’t realize just how fast the years would fly. I wonder if I will feel the same way when we hit twenty or thirty years of marriage. I secretly hope that the feeling of “it was just yesterday that we were dancing at our wedding reception!” will permeate through those years. I never really want that newness, or shocking realization that we hit another anniversary to go away – I always want to be surprised that even though our wedding may have been a while ago…it still feels like it has been a relatively short amount of time.

Anyway, I’m rambling. I just can’t believe that I’m living this vocation. That God has provided for us in so many ways and continues to work through our marriage. I can’t believe that we are making it, that we are really living this good life and I’m just so grateful to be in this sacrament with such a truly fantastic person.

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I think C.S. Lewis does a much better job at constructing the thoughts I am trying to convey here in this post so I will end with this, it is one of my favorite quotes about love and marriage:

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

I love you, Eric Martin. Thank you for choosing to love me. Happy Anniversary!

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2nd anniversary post

Right after we got married! 

FAMILY | mother’s day 2015

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Happy Monday y’all + a happy belated mother’s day to those who were celebrating the holiday yesterday. I have always loved this special day and a few years ago I even wrote a post about my feelings on this special day as an unmarried, childless person (if you want to take a peek click here). I vaguely remember writing a post last year about my first mother’s day but I think it was lost somewhere in the shuffle between sleep deprivation, hormonal mood swings that rivaled that of a 13 year old girl and always having a newborn attached to my person.

This year’s celebration was absolutely wonderful. I felt pretty celebrated the whole weekend and the best part was that we didn’t really do anything extravagant. For the most part it was a relatively normal weekend. We even had mother’s day brunch at our house instead of out because my brother-in-law and his family were coming over and two little ones were easier to entertain among the masses of baby toys at our house. I was able to sneak away for a couple of hours and enjoy some time with one of my best friends while getting my nails done and enjoying an iced green tea and then my husband + sweet girl surprised me with my own kindle for mother’s day! (Now I won’t be keeping my husband awake at night while reading on the iPad.;) The best gift though really was just feeling appreciated in the day to day this weekend. I have been in a bit of a funk lately and the past two days really rejuvenated my soul in so many ways.

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Yesterday I posted a photo on Instagram from the night Madeline was born. It was our first family picture and far by my favorite from the night. After so many hours of labor, so much pushing, so many scary new-mom-never-having-gone-through-labor moments I was so relieved to have my girl with us when I honestly didn’t think I was strong enough to get her here. I remember crying so hard with my husband after that final push because I did it! I actually did it! And I don’t think either one of us could really believe it. It reminded me of when I found out I was pregnant and I really couldn’t believe that there was a tiny little person starting to form right inside me and I had so many doubts that I would really be able to handle pregnancy and becoming a mom. Along with that picture I posted I found a quote that really encapsulated my unbelief of this whole motherhood gig, “The biggest surprise, which is also the best, is that I didn’t know I would love motherhood as much as I do.” – Deborah Norville

I need to have that quote printed in big bold letters on days that are tough and trying and down right exhausting.

Being completely and totally cliche here: I just never realized how life changing being a mom would be. I remember being so self conscious last year about my ever expanding belly and whether or not I was going to go back to work. When I decided to stay home (and eventually choose to work part time) I didn’t really know how to identify myself anymore. I wasn’t a teacher, I wasn’t working towards anything in that field, I was just a mom…but what did that mean? And I found out that along with the surprise that was being pregnant, and the surprise that was labor and delivery, it meant that I would need to surprise myself and challenge myself in ways that I never thought I would. It meant that I would lose a part of myself to gain a kind of love that only the grace of God could supply in my heart. It meant that I would sacrifice things that I worked hard for on my own so that another little person could thrive in our home. It meant surrendering all to His will and not my own. 10347082_2270901622236_7616151671525193603_n (1)

His will and not my own.

Words I have prayed over and over again, but not until now have I really realized that I am doing that thing.

Doing that thing, that motherhood thing, and really truly loving it.

Motherhood really has been the best surprise and I thank God for that blessing in my life, but really the best blessing of all was how much I love being a mom and caring for someone more than myself to give her the best life.

I hope you all had a lovely day filled with sloppy baby kisses, phone calls to your own mom, or just a celebration of life in general.

FAITH | ready, set, test.

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This week across the state of Texas teachers and students are at the point in the school year that they have been anxiously awaiting for the past 9 months. It’s STAAR testing week and from previous experience, I can say that testing days are by far some of the most mind numbing, feet dragging, soul draining days as a teacher. I have been seeing former coworkers posting on social media about their testing weeks and I can’t help but say a quick prayer for each and every one of them as I imagine their tired feet being kicked up after their tiresome days.

Testing is honestly, probably the biggest thing I don’t miss about teaching.

The concept that is standardized testing is still I continue to struggle with when I’m asked about my teaching philosophy/future plans as an educator. I won’t delve into too much personal detail but I (and I’m sure many others – educators or not) can see the positives/negatives to both sides of the testing line. One thing I did enjoy about getting to this point in the school year with my students is that it gave us an attainable goal we had to reach. It was a milestone for each student in someway and myself. It was a day on the calendar that we were slowing moving towards during the school year. We had finally made it to ‘that’ point in our planners and afterward there was always a sense of accomplishment – like, I am officially done with this grade level now and can move on. It was preparation in way, for bigger tests/milestones in life and I felt good knowing that I was there, getting to support my students in some way as they were finally able to jump over their personal hurdles in the testing environment.

Then there is the negative…the pressure on both students and teachers was and is something that I personally, and morally have a really hard time with. I know I have read articles about all of the unnecessary stress being placed on students at such a young age right now. Kids coming home and having panic attacks from a state test is obviously not the most optimal educational situation. Kids should be kids. Kids should play, and learn, and enjoy their educations to the fullest. But then how can we hold them accountable? How can we make sure that students are learning at least some of the basic strategies as their developmental peer group? How can we make sure that teachers are challenging them and pushing them to become the best educated members of society that they can be?

It’s so hard isn’t it. To find that balance.

We aren’t close but I know that one day it will be figured out. I have faith in that. For now, I’m going to keep offering up my days for my teacher friends and teachers everywhere as they actively monitor their students take the biggest test they have had to take thus far in their little lives. I’m going to continue to try and set an example for teachers and parents (especially when mine is in school) that while the system is far from perfect, a little grace goes a long way and if we all just stop and realize that we all want the same end result… I think we’ll all do pretty ok on a much more important test that life offers us.

Just my two cents. Happy Wednesday!

FAITH | humility of house hunting

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I think the title gives enough explanation as to what has been going on over in our neck of the woods lately. We have been house hunting for almost a month now and man, I knew it would be tough…but I think in terms of the emotions that come with finding a house that the word tough is a understatement. I am going to start this with a disclaimer that I am fully aware of my overly sensitive nature and that the combination of looking at house after house and being repeatedly disappointed in conjunction with my ever emotional self is starting to take it’s toll. I’m sure I am not alone in my sentiments of wanting a house search to be over (it could have been over on our first day of hunting and that would have been fine with me!), but I am not so sure that it is normal for me to be feeling so DONE after only ONE month.

Everyone I have talked to has warned me about how terrible the search can be – with a few exceptions of those who truly did enjoy the process. I was really hoping to be a member of the latter and envisioned Eric and I looking at a handful of houses and finding an adorable abode in no time. Honestly, thinking about how naive that sentence is makes me a little sick to my stomach considering the past few weeks. I feel like we have seen a little bit of everything from scary houses that do NOT match the listing description (note to self: if the seller hasn’t posted any pictures, it’s probably for a good [ugly] reason) to completely wood paneled living rooms (and bathrooms, and bedrooms, and…every room), to homes that we could imagine actually living in and planning future weekend projects together.

The last one was a kicker. Two weeks ago, after a crazy weekend filled with family and other non-related house hunting events we ended up putting an offer on a house; the first house that we BOTH loved – only to be turned down a few (excruciatingly long) days later. It really hurt and it took me a couple days to get back in the saddle and even browse through new listings from our agent. But of course, with struggle and sacrifice come the greatest of life lessons and I can honestly say that these past few weeks, while tough, have been yet another much needed lesson in humility.

Humility. Oh, how I wish this were not a lesson I had to learn over and over and over again. I feel like I am constantly needing a reminder from Him that I am not the most important. I do not know what I really need in this life. I need to trust more. Be more willing to go with the flow and live the life that has been so greatly provided for me. I’m not always going to get what I want, especially when it’s not what He wants for me or our family right now. I know that years down the road I will look back and know why we didn’t get that house, but right now it’s hard to think about it too long. My heart was in it. I really wanted it, and I think it’s ok to admit I am more than a little hurt by this process and what we have had to deal with lately. But if I am being completely honest, this is not the first time I have felt this way.

I can remember numerous times in my short life getting way too emotionally invested for my own good. Whether it be something I wanted, a friendship, or a relationship. I’ve never been afraid to jump the gun emotionally and start investing more of myself before the time is right. And time and time again, God humbles me and tells me to be more careful with my heart. To really consider what is going on and to give it prayerful thought and anticipation. Rather than be heartbroken repeatedly. How human of me but how perfectly does it exemplify my relationship with God. I need him and He wants me to realize it – if only I realized it more regularly and without the need for these big lessons.

I know that the perfect home is out there for our family. We aren’t looking for our forever home, we aren’t looking for absolute perfection, we are looking for a place to grow and learn in love. To make friends and family feel welcome and to live this abundant life. Although, as I keep thinking about our search and what we have endured thus far – I realize that we don’t need a house to have all of this. I already have it in my heart.

“His dwelling shall be glorious.” IS 11:10

 

Photo by Kate Love Photography

FAITH | my first non-first day of school

 

classroom1 Today is the first day of school for the district that I was a part of not only as a teacher these past few years but as a student growing up. I knew that when I made the decision to stay home that this day would come and feelings were going to be felt. It has been hard to wrap my brain around the facts that I am not with my staff, I didn’t set up my classroom, and I won’t be welcoming a new bunch of 8 year olds into a new year of third grade learning adventures. But then again I have had this overwhelming sense of peace about this decision to stay home with our girl.

A friend texted me this morning offering his prayers for me today. His mom is a teacher and he knows. Teaching isn’t just another job – it’s a vocation, a calling in life for those people equipped with the gifts of impacting students lives in such a way that they are willing to put up with the many (MANY) hardships that come with the job. He said something that made me feel a little bit more sane about this situation.

“Sometimes even when you know it’s the right thing, and you really are happy about it, there can still be a twinge of pain from missing something.”

So I’m not crazy.classroom3A part of me was feeling guilty for being bummed about the start of the school year. I mean, I am the one who decided to stay home – this was MY choice. I should be happy right? I shouldn’t even be thinking about school, right? Wrong. I was so relieved to read his words today because they were the best reminder and exactly what I needed. It is ok to feel like I am missing something. I AM missing something. I’m missing people and kids and my job that was everything to me.

There are people that would give anything to be in the position we are in. I know it breaks so many of my friends hearts when they have to drop their babies off at daycare to continue working and I know that I will never regret a moment spent at home with our family as it grows in these early years. But there is something missing. I missed the days this year when I would spend long hours up at school before the start of the school year setting up my classroom in the unairconditioned heat. I missed the staff development week for teachers  – learning about everything new that would come with a fresh new school year. I missed reconnecting with coworkers and hearing all about their summer escapades. I missed the jitters I would feel trying to fall asleep before the first day of school – knowing that my future students were probably feeling just as excited and nervous as I was.

And yet I know that this is where I need to be right now. Not in the classroom but learning new lessons at home. I am learning more about myself, life, my family, and God’s will each day that I stay home in this new role. Like I said before, I feel a sense of peace about this entire situation but that doesn’t necessarily excuse me from feeling a little left out of the new school year excitement.classroom2So to all of my former coworkers and teacher friends (and family!): I wish you the best school year yet. I hope your students have a great first week back and that you enjoy getting to know them and all of their little quirks. You are doing a job that you are meant to do in every way. But remember that it is so much more than just a job and when things do get tough this year (because “that point” always comes during the year) know that you are appreciated by many even when they may not say it and you are needed by those around you even though you may not believe it. I can only hope and pray that Madeline gets teachers as amazing as the ones I know and love.

To parents dropping off their kiddos for their first day and teacher friends alike – Happy 2014-2015 school year!

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!

 

“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!

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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