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.

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FAITH | mom friend dating + self discoveries

The idea of friendship and what it takes to make new friends is something that has been on my mind for the past several months. The concept of connecting with people is something that I feel like I am constantly thinking about and interested in, but the actual act of making new friends as an adult person has really been getting to me lately. I finally crossed this book off of my reading list and it gave me some new found encouragement in my pursuit of new friendship.

I knew that this past year would throw me for a loop in this area of life because I wouldn’t have my coworkers to lean on for my daily social interactions (with adult, non-baby people:). And, if I’m being completely honest with myself I didn’t realize just how MUCH I relied on my coworker friendships and my job for my identity in life (that could be an entire blog post alone). But really, before making the decision to stay home, I felt like I had a ton of friends outside of work that I could rely on. I wasn’t too worried about the transition I was about to make and figured I would just start tapping into some of my other social groups more often. But something I didn’t think about was… those people all have jobs of their own, families, other friends, and don’t necessarily have the time or freedom of schedule that I did in my new little SAHM world. So where did that leave me? It meant that I would need to get my butt in gear, pack up my baby and start getting involved in the world around me if I really wanted to get out and meet some people going through the same things I was going through.

And It was really hard. It was hard to pack up an 8 week old baby and get out the door in the mornings. It was hard to find groups of moms that were a) in my interest b) had similarly aged children and c) didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to join. But I learned something about myself and that’s always beneficial. I have always thought of myself an an extroverted person. I love being around people and soaking in everyones energy in social situations. But as I was going out to meet new people I was coming home exhausted. Now I realize this was also during a time where I was getting *maybe* 4 straight hours of sleep at night, so there were other reasons for my exhaustion. But I really felt so emotionally and socially expended at the end of the day. It was tough, and that’s when I realized that maybe I was not as extroverted as I originally thought I was.

In college I had to take a multitude of psychology classes for my major and inevitably during the course of the semester, no matter the class, we usually had to take a Myers-Briggs personality test. Without fail I always came back with the same personality type: ENFJ. We even had to take the same personality test for our marriage preparation and again: ENFJ. Extroverted, intuitive, feeling, judging. Essentially, I was typed as a person who likes to get out there. I like to interact with others and work with people and I do! For the most part. I love teaching and working with others…but it wasn’t until I was in this situation of making new friends that I realized…I only feel comfortable putting myself out there and getting to know other people when I am completely comfortable in my environment.

I joined a mommy bootcamp of sorts and always felt myself feeling shy. I was find working out with these other ladies but never felt myself being completely open and out there as I had in other situations. I also joined my church’s mom’s group and felt instantly warm and welcoming to the people around me. I tested the waters with a few other new social settings and found the same to be true: I was more extroverted in extremely comfortable settings, and more introverted in extremely new settings. Which would make sense because looking back on all of those personality tests I always towed the line between extrovert and introvert. But it wasn’t until I was put through the test of new-friend-making that I really figured this out about myself.

So anyway, moving on from my deep self discoveries. Back to the actual friend making. No matter the situation I felt myself seeing other mom’s that I would potentially want to be closer friends with and feeling like I was on the hunt. Almost like I was dating to find other mom friends that I and my child would be compatible with. I felt pretty crazy at first but the more moms I met the more I realized that they felt the same way too. I even had a few conversations like this with other moms about how you are taken completely out of your comfort zone and how it is a strange mix of dating and making friends like you would in elementary school. It has been a really interesting journey thus far and I have met some really wonderful people that I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to meet. I know that this is only the beginning of many seasons in life where I (and we as a family) will experience crazy amounts of transition, meet new people, and have to push myself in ways I never really thought I would have to, so I’m going to continue on with my new found knowledge and continue to put myself out there as best I know how.

Happy weekend!

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!

survival mode: five favorites that have helped me survive the first month

fivefavesnewbornOne of my goals this week was to actually write a  five favorites post and link up to Hallie’s wonderful blog. I had originally intended this post to be good to go yesterday – but c’est la vie of a newborn and mom who is figuring it all out day by day. Anywho – here are the five things that I think have made our lives somewhat bearable this first month of babydom. I feel like I’m really just posting this for posterity’s sake because I know that one day we will forget how hard life is with a new babe and we will bring another little cherub into this world, somehow forgetful of the sleepless nights and haggard outlook on life that tend to come with said little bebe. So for future me – these are the five things that helped you through the first month with a tiny human, hopefully they’ll help the next time around too!

1. My Brest Friend – Oh good Lord almighty. This pillow really had become my best friend. I was referred to this nursing pillow by a wonderful friend and coworker who had her sweet girl this time last year. Not only is the name of this product pure gold and never fails to make me smile (I also laugh when my students fart and make poop jokes sooo…color me mature). We even had our first little pooptacular blowout on the Brest Friend and taking the cover off, washing, and recovering wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. You can adjust the tightness of the strap and it has back support. The brest of friends.

2. Homedics Sound Spa – It took us all of two nights with our little princess in our room to resort to using the sound machine when we go to sleep. I’ll be honest, the use of this is more for the two grown-ups in the room because this girl could sleep through a hurricane (she slept all morning during some very loud, annoying, beep beep beeping construction outside our window). This babe makes all sorts of weird noises at night and the first two nights with her home I could. not. sleep. because of her snorts and coughs and coos which at the time I was just SURE were signals for I’M ABOUT TO STOP BREATHING. Enter the sound spa – they drown out her noises just enough for some bearable sleep for the adults but it’s still quiet enough that I can hear her when she really does need me.

3. BornFree Nursing Night Light – So I won’t lie – I totally saw this on Pinterest and thought that it was fake or didn’t lead to an actual link and I totally ordered it at 4 a.m. during a frustrating feeding session where I turned on my bedside lamp and woke up my husband, once again. While I know these next few weeks are full of the sleeplessness, I figure one of us should get SOME sleep. This little light provides a fair amount of light so that you can actually see what’s going on and the clip holds onto even super skinny straps. My only complaint is that the vibrate setting is kind of loud and terrifying in the middle of the night if you don’t realize that it buzzes if you fall asleep. But now I know and the super jumpy side of me is a-ok.

4. Moby Wrap – When I first started this post I put down “coffee” for numero cuatro – however, after today I think that my Moby Wrap precedes my caffeine intake. For the past couple of days we’ve had a stage-five clinger on our hands and she will only nap on someone during the day. I can’t blame the poor girl because I feel like she is gaining at least a pound a day between how heavy she feels and how often she is feeding. I tried wearing her around in our Baby Bjorn but I still felt like she was either too far away from me or that it was better suited for our walking ventures. I was pretty intimidated by the super long yardage of fabric that was supposed to magically hold my baby up – but now that I have watched a couple of videos and read the pamphlet thoroughly I’m sold. Call me crunchy but I’ll babywear any day if it means she can not be a huge fusspot and I can get SOME things done.

5. BabyCenter App – I’ll be honest, this app could really be number one on my list. Recommended by a friend with a newborn only a month ahead of us this app had seriously held us together the first month. Especially at our first few doctors appointments where they ask you how many wet diapers your baby is having in a 24 hour period or how many times you nurse a day. Without this app I really would have had to just stare blankly at my doctor in my sleep deprived state. I really couldn’t tell you how many times I nurse a day. A lot. How many wet diapers a day? Does 72 sound right? Because I feel like that’s how many she has. The best part of this app is that you can connect a child between devices so this app is now on our iPad and both of our phones. It’s magical.

“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!

embracing motherhood: the first two weeks

I honestly can’t believe that we have survived these first two weeks of parenthood! If I’m being completely honest there are times where I have felt time flying by and times (like the 3am feedings) where I feel like time is dragging on…and on…and on forever. While things aren’t always easy – I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. I am loving getting to know this little girl each and every day. I had no idea that I could be so overwhelmed with love and admiration for someone so incredibly tiny and new. I also had no idea that I could learn so much about someone and myself every day. New parenting mush aside I thought I would write down the top 5 things on my mind about these two weeks because formulating and entirely well written blog post will have to wait for another day when my brain is functioning on more sleep.

1. Speaking of sleep, I am amazed at how much I have been able to do on so little sleep. I have always been a lover of sleep and the more I can get the happier my disposition tends to be. Well that just won’t be the case these first couple of months because we have a hungry, growing girl on our hands! God really helps out new mamas in the sleep deprivation department because I honestly don’t know how I make it some days!

2. Waking up at 8am and then looking at the clock to see that it’s…noon???! I feel like this has been consistently happening lately. Mornings just don’t exist right now and it boggles my mind.

3. Thankful for my husband’s job/company that let him take two weeks off for paternity leave. I really, REALLY don’t know how I could have survived these first two weeks without him. Today was our first full day with him back at work and I think we BOTH missed him a lot – looking forward to him walking through the door this evening!

4. I miss my coworkers. I have caught myself thinking about work off and on at times. I really miss my friends and coworkers and this time with my students. I still catch myself looking at the clock and thinking about what time it is and what everyone must be doing. I miss the busy-ness that school brings but I am also starting to appreciate this new season of busy-ness too.

5. I’m a mom. I have a daughter. We are PARENTS. Still blows my mind!

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First Easter as a family of three!

Happy Monday!

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.