Catching Up

Well hello there! Long time no blog and for that I apologize. Or at least wonder where the last two months have gone because I know I wrote more recently than that…right? Oops, wrong.

I should write a bunch of detailed posts about what we’ve been up to lately but I’m still getting my gears grinding so a haphazard update with a few pics will have to do. Here goes nothing!

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We had my grandmother’s memorial in Dallas and it was beautiful. I was surprisingly not as emotional as I’d expected, partly because I had my hands full with the kids I’m sure. But also I think because I had such closure with getting to say goodbye to her, had no regrets about the time we had together along with visiting her many times while her health was starting to decline, and of course knowing that she’s with Jesus now. All eight of her kids were able to be there so it made for quite a fun family reunion afterwards. Grandma Bonnie, I miss you dearly but know that I’ll see you again soon enough.

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On a more upbeat and unexpected note, Jason and I got to attend the Coldplay concert when they came to DFW. Long story short…I called and won a little Coldplay prize pack on the radio and was then entered into the drawing for the grand prize tickets plus a meet & greet with the band. I stopped by the station office to get my guaranteed prize but while I was there, found out that I was the grand prize winner for the show the next night! Mind blown. They proceeded to whisk me (and baby Catherine) away to their studio upstairs to record my “live” reaction and a little promo spot. Thankfully I was able to get help from family to watch the girls while Jason and I enjoyed a last minute date night and boy was it one for the books! We arrived at AT&T Stadium and got a full tour of the facilities by the band manager, were able to go on stage, ate a delicious dinner with the tour crew (including Chris Martin, whaaaat!?), had a quick meet & greet with the whole band, then enjoyed a truly amazing performance. Is this real life??? What an amazing night it was. I’m glad I made that one impromptu phone call while at a red light on the way to Hobby Lobby!

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Speaking of hobbies…there’s one thing (besides married life and the kiddos) that’s consumed my life as of late. Cookies y’all. My life is overflowing with cookies. I could post a bazillion photos of the projects I’ve done lately but will give you one quick photo collage instead. (Lots of photos can be found on my cookie FB page if you’re curious!) Business is definitely booming which has made life crazy but amazing. It’s been a balancing act and learning experience for sure, figuring out how to prioritize with my other obligations and responsibilities but I’m loving it. Minus the late nights, but that’s what coffee is for right? And I have a baby anyways, so what’s a little extra sleep deprivation a few nights a week? PS: I’m thankful for moms and word of mouth, because kids birthday parties have apparently become my market lately!

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Jason and I were able to attend the Encounter Young Adult Conference down near Houston a few weeks ago. Clare stayed with family while Catherine tagged along with us and it was a truly beautiful and enriching weekend full of great speakers and break out sessions plus lots of time for fellowship and the ever important Sacraments too. I saw lots of familiar young adult faces and even got to finally meet an online friend in person. (hi Andrea!) All in all, it was a much needed getaway to recharge my spiritual batteries. Props to Steubenville and Adore Ministries for hosting this great event!

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Something that Jason and I have felt called to pursue and finally took the plunge to start is a weekly “family dinner”. We knew about it from friends in Houston who established the concept a while back in their area where basically you give an open invitation to folks (usually it’s a young adult/family scene) to come over one night a week for dinner. The host family provides the main dish and everyone that comes brings a side or dessert. Come if you can, no need to RSVP, and bring the whole family plus other friends you think would like to attend. We really wanted to build community and friendships in our area including our actual neighbors in the neighborhood. So if you’re ever in Fort Worth on a Friday night and want to join, just let me know! (PS: that photo isn’t at our house, but at a family dinner in Houston we attended recently! Maybe someday our backyard will be that awesome. 😉 )

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Lastly, today is our 8th wedding anniversary! My how time flies. I could’ve swore it was just last month that I was 21 and saying “I do”. Jason has a surprise dinner out planned for tonight while my MIL watches the girls, so I’m super pumped for that. Love you Jason – here’s to many many many more!

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Other things we’ve been up to but I don’t want to make this a novel include: Jason’s 31st Birthday, lots of play dates and story time at the library, painting our guest bathroom and updating our front and back garden beds, and us girls going to the Luke’s Diner promo event for the upcoming Gilmore Girls episodes. Life has surely been busy but beautiful!

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The Heavy and Light of World Youth Day

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I’ve been home from our World Youth Day pilgrimage for about 2 weeks now and am (mostly) caught up on sleep and back to our regular routine. I’ve also had some time to ponder my WYD experience plus the highs and lows of this pilgrimage of life.

Before leaving overseas, I listened to Switchfoot’s new album on repeat and a line of one song hit me hard. In “Heavy and Light”, Jon Foreman sings, “On my pilgrimage, I’m traveling light with the heavy heart. On my pilgrimage, I’m traveling light and heavy.”

That lyric was stuck in my head during our entire pilgrimage and I’ve realized it reflects my experience with both World Youth Days I’ve attended. Let me explain…

I went to WYD in Rio de Janeiro back in 2013. At that point, Jason and I had been struggling with infertility for about 5 years. I’d just had surgery a month prior to the trip which did a major endometriosis clean up and I had no idea what the future held in terms of being able to have children. I was holding on to hope but deep down, tried not to get those hopes too high since I’d already been disappointed over and over again. During that pilgrimage, I insist that mama Mary was stalking me (another story for another day) and by the end of our journey, I’d found incredible peace in God’s plan and will for my life, whatever that might be and according to His perfect timing. It was a huge turning point for me and I felt like most of that heavy weight on my shoulders had been lifted. Then sure enough, we were able to conceive our sweet Clare right when we returned home and went on to have no problem getting pregnant with Catherine. I’d gone to Rio with a heavy and uncertain heart but God made it light and revealed his beautiful plan with our long awaited children.

Fast forward to 2016 and our recent WYD pilgrimage to Krakow. I went into our travels with a heavy heart once again. My grandmother (the only living grandparent on my side of the family) was seemingly in her last days when we departed. Thankfully we were able to visit her before leaving and say what we thought could be our last goodbyes. Traveling overseas, knowing that your family, especially your mother, is going through such a difficult time, is tough. I honestly had a feeling that she would pass away while we were gone and sure enough, while at the airport in Rome heading to our next leg of the trip in Prague, I got the dreaded news.

Talk about a heavy heart. I shed some tears right away and got hugs and comfort from my husband, but I had my hands so full with the girls that it was hard to fully enter into the fresh grief and mourning. I only told a few people in our group and just wanted to keep the sorrow private and not make it into a huge ordeal.

While I hated being away from my family, being on pilgrimage was a pretty great second best place to be and truly helped lighten my heart. I was able to pray at countless holy sites and plus, it being the Year of Mercy and visiting the city that promulgated so much of Christ’s divine mercy was ideal for the tough situation. So while my World Youth Day experiences have certainly been fun and exciting, they’ve also been met with a heavy heart along the way. Thankfully, we have a Lord who promises to ease our burdens, carry our yoke, and turn our heavy hearts light on this pilgrimage that we call life.

30 While 30

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Well, I just turned 30. It was a simple but sweet celebration filled with family time, Shiner beer, and my mom’s classic strawberry shortcake. Hello new decade, so long 20’s. You’ve been real. You’ve been great. You’ve been really great. (name that movie, anyone?)

I’ve seen a lot of folks make lists of goals “30 by 30” style but 29 year old Becky couldn’t get that together in time. So I’ve decided to make my own list of 30 things I want to do while 30. Sharing this will hopefully help keep me accountable and I’ll post updates along the way (maybe monthly?), marking things off the list as I go. This year is going to rock, I can already tell – can’t wait to share it with yall!

1. Read (at least) 5 new books

2. Run a 5k again

3. Travel to new places, near and far

4. Meet my cookie business profit goal for the year

5. Expand my garden in the backyard

6. Donate to some charities/causes that I feel passionately about

7. Try some new cocktails (including some classics that I’ve never tasted)

8. Lose 30+ lbs from birth weight

9. Learn how to make macarons (I tried once and failed miserably!)

10. Make new friends and keep the old

11. Host the 12th night (Epiphany) party that I’ve wanted to for years

12. Finally try out my Italian stovetop espresso maker

13. Get a new pair of glasses

14. Donate 100+ ounces of milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North TX

15. Write my conversion story

16. Visit 2 breweries

17. Read the entire Old Testament

18. Learn to make gumbo & jambalaya

19. Pray 5 novenas

20. Learn more about how to do makeup – maybe try to rock some bold lipstick?

21. Plan a super cute 2017 birthday party for my May babies

22. Write 12 handwritten letters to friends/family

23. Learn how to do at least one cute braid hairstyle

24. Go somewhere fun with my mom

25. Watch a few classic movies that I’ve never seen

26. Clean out my closet & dresser

27. Do something special for local police/firefighters as a thank you

28. Learn how to make fresh pasta

29. Plan a fun surprise date night for me and Jason

30. Do 6 random acts of cookie kindness

And who knows what else will be in store along the way? I look forward to finding out!

Monday Morsels #25

Hi yall! Well, life has certainly changed since my last family update! Without wasting any time, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

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My sweet firstborn turned two! Goodness gracious, how the time flies. We started the day with her two year check up which thankfully didn’t include any shots. Then we stopped to get a Birthday donut, went to the neighborhood pond to feed the “quack quacks”, and played at the park. We had one of her favorite meals for dinner plus cake of course. As much as I wanted to have a big celebration for her, I loved our simple day together and honestly, at 40 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t have handled much more!

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Then two days later…our precious daughter Catherine was born! Things happened pretty quickly and labor went as smoothly as possible. We are totally in love with this little lady! Life has been full of visits from family/friends, meals delivered, and adjusting to being a family of 4 (most adjusting from a certain toddler) and while we’re tired, life is beautiful. I actually hope to finally write a birth story for both girls soon, so stay posted for more info besides “hey! we had a baby!” if you’re into that sort of blog post.

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Then 9 days later, little Catherine was baptized and brought into the Church. It was sort of last minute since we weren’t totally sure when she’d arrive but worked out just perfectly and also happened to be the feast of Pentecost. So fitting! Our sweet little saint smelled of chrism and peacefully slept through the whole thing. Who could ask for more?

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Then besides the everyday crazy life in new baby land, we’ve been right in the middle of busy event season and trying to attend what celebrations we can manage. First off was the ordination of our friend, now Father Joseph Keating. I have to get used to calling him that! We became friends during my college years and it’s been just beautiful seeing his vocation unfold. When we met, he was a vibrant youth minister, then entered the seminary, was sent to the NAC in Rome for his studies (we even got to visit him there while traveling!), had the honor to sing the Gospel at the Easter mass at St. Peter’s this past Easter, and now is officially a priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Congrats to you, Fr. Joe, and I can’t wait to see where God takes you next on your journey!

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One of the youth from our former parish invited us to her graduation party which was also a blast. I was her confirmation sponsor a few years ago and got to know her really well during our time there. I’m so proud of her accomplishments and know she’ll do great things at Benedictine College. The party was full of yummy BBQ, cake, and a fun photo area with props. We got to catch up with some old parish friends and Clare wore herself out with an inflatable ball. Good times all around!

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We also got together on my side of the family to celebrate the May birthdays in the family. Which is my mom, Clare, and now Catherine too! So it’s basically now a party for grandma and her granddaughters, which I know she loves. We had tons of delicious food as always, a variety of desserts, gifts, and great company. Clare had a cookie cake that grandma made especially for her, since she’s a total frosting and cookie girl. (which baffles her cake loving mother) Catherine got to meet most of the rest of her Texas family and it’s such a blast having more littles in the family now, running around and playing during our gatherings, plus plenty of arms wanting to hold the babies. It’s a beautiful thing!

Dear Lord, I’m Turning Into My Mother…

Photo from pixabay.com Wording added by Vita Dulcis

Let’s start with a little story about iced tea. I drink it unsweetened, which is how I was raised by my northern parents. Growing up, I never realized that there was any other way. Such a naive little Texan I was. Then one day, I was playing at my friend’s house next door and her mom offered me a glass of iced tea. I took a big gulp, assuming it was made like my mom’s, and had to politely swallow it while internally thinking, “What in the world was that?! That’s not iced tea!” My first introduction to sweet tea. No offense to my fellow southerners, but I just can’t do it.

My mom has always kept a big pitcher of iced tea in the fridge and enjoys at least one glass a day. It’s her go-to drink plus a little caffeine fix and always makes me think of her. I love to order iced tea when I go out and usually have a glass when visiting home, but until recently, I never made it myself for whatever reason. But now, as of a few weeks ago, I consistently keep a pitcher in the fridge.

Dear Lord, I’m turning into my mother.

You hear women fret the fact that they start to resemble their mom as they grow older, especially when they get married and have kids. Many ladies view and say it as a negative. For me, it’s mainly been drinking iced tea, catching myself saying things like she does, and mothering like I often remember her doing.

Dear Lord, I’m turning into my mother.

…thank you.

Because turning into my mother means so many wonderful things. Sure, we’ve had our challenges and disagreements over the years like any normal mother and daughter duo. But…

My mom has been a wife for 33 years. She has been an example of fidelity in a culture that calls it quits when relationships aren’t easy or fun. And as a wife of 7 years so far, I’ve quickly learned that marriage isn’t always easy and fun, so I am extremely thankful for a mother who doesn’t give up on her husband or family when the going gets tough.

My mom raised three kids. Pretty awesome ones, if I say so myself. She gave all of us so much of her time and attention over the years. Diaper changes, making countless meals, cleaning up after us with no gripes, doing all the day in and day out tasks that motherhood involves and usually with little appreciation. As a mother myself, I get how hard that is now and wish I could come close to saying thank you enough.

My mom is a daughter and sister. She’s always been quick to lend a helping hand to my grandparents over the years. She continues to visit and help take care of so much for my grandmother when I know she’s exhausted after a long day at work. She’s not only a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but is also a totally fun person to be around with a great sense of humor and playful personality. She opens up her heart and her home and would give her right arm to those who needed it.

My mom is a breast cancer survivor. A few years ago, she got an unexpected, serious, and rare diagnosis then proceeded to handle it with strength, perseverance, and hope. Sitting with her during a chemo session and visiting her after surgery seemed to be harder on me than her. She has kept her positivity and genuine faith in God’s plan during the whole journey and has since been cancer free and in good health.

On top of all that, my mom has taught me many things over the years. She’s a great baker which I insist is where I get my cookie decorating skills. She instilled the importance of making church a priority in life. She hasn’t lived a showy life and has taught me how to shop a good sale, be frugal, and clip coupons. Because of her, I understand the awesomeness of secondhand stores and learned how to find treasures. She’s shown me how to be grateful for your blessings, be a generous giver, and use your time, talents, and treasures for the good of God and others.

So dear Lord, if I am turning into my mother, I thank you for it. I’ve sure been given a good one.

Happy Mother’s Day mom – I love you and appreciate all that you’ve done and continue to do for me and our whole family.

 

(Photo from pixabay.com, Wording added by Vita Dulcis)

Monday Morsels #24

Hey everyone! Hope that you’re all doing well this spring – life has continued to be busy on our end but I certainly can’t complain! Here’s some of what we’ve been up to lately:

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Photo cred – Diocese of Fort Worth

We were blessed to be able to attend the ordination to the diaconate for two amazing men, Stephen and John, both of whom we got to know at our former parish where they served at different times. Ordinations are awesome in general, but when you know the people, it’s extremely powerful and beautiful. Congratulations to them on this huge step towards their vocation to the priesthood. Our diocese is blessed to have you both!

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Photo cred – Jeanette Houle

That same weekend we went to the final meet and greet for the upcoming World Youth Day pilgrimage. It’s hard to believe that we leave in less than 100 days! I’m beyond excited to travel with this group and still hoping that traveling overseas with a toddler and baby isn’t too nuts!

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We got some tickets to a recent Texas Rangers game and had an amazing time. It was Clare’s first game and she even got a cute commemorative certificate. She was fascinated by all the people, chants, music, and of course the food. Especially the nacho cheese!

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There have been a lot of celebrations in our lives lately! Several of our friends have kiddos turning two so we’ve had a blast celebrating these little ones. Also, Jason’s grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and we had a nice family dinner out. What a huge accomplishment that is and a beautiful example to our family and others!

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In cookie news, I’ve kept busy lately with Birthday cookies for several kids along with a “family tree” set for the 60th anniversary party. I’ve decided to take off the whole month of May with baby Catherine’s arrival soon. It’s definitely been hard turning away business but I know it’s for the best and would be way overwhelming otherwise. But what a blessing to be my own boss and have that option! I’m looking ahead at June with graduations and Father’s Day (and my 30th Birthday, whoop!!) but will honestly just play it all by ear once I see what I’m able to handle.

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In miscellaneous news, we’ve had some fun play dates, an old friend over for dinner, and my ladies book club finished “All The Light We Cannot See” and loved it! I’ve been having my weekly birth center appointments and all looks good on the baby front. My due date is now anywhere from May 5th to the 11th so we’ll see what little miss Catherine has in mind! I’ve been nesting like crazy, wanting to clean and organize ALL the things, plus trying to soak up all the snuggles and one on one time with Clare that I can get before life changes.

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We’ve also finally transitioned Clare to her “big girl room” upstairs which is going ok – some nights are better than others! We did cosleeping when she was a baby and then since the master bedroom is downstairs and the others are all the way upstairs, she’s slept on a bed in our room after that. With Catherine soon taking that spot in our room, we decided to move Clare up there before baby comes so she doesn’t feel replaced or kicked out. It’s hard to believe our big girl will be 2 this week but it’s super exciting and we’re thrilled to see her be in big sister mode soon. So stay tuned, because the next update will likely have baby photos galore!

Monday Morsels #23

Why hello lovely readers, it’s nice to see you again! My Lenten break was much needed but to be honest, I didn’t really rest like I’d hoped. Spiritually, kind of. But physically, not even close. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to lately!

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After 10 years, I said goodbye to my sweet little 2 door car that I bought freshman year of college. The Becky-mobile (as my mom called it) and I had been through a lot over the years between road trips, getting married, and adding a car seat for our first kiddo. I never had any problems with it but with Catherine on the way and me being super pregnant, getting a kid in and out of the back seat was getting tough. So we traded it in and upgraded to a new Dodge Journey which we’re hoping will last a long time and be a great family vehicle. I love it already!

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Jason was out of town for the annual Region 10 meeting and it just happened to correspond with my mom’s Spring Break! So us girls mosied over to my parents’ house and spent the week shopping, hanging out, and just having quality girl time together. Such a blast!

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Between holidays and special events, my little cookie business has been keeping me mighty busy! I made some fun St. Patrick’s Day and Easter sets along with special orders for a Curious George birthday party, bridal shower, Minecraft birthday, dance team spring show, Minnie Mouse birthday, and a medieval set for a homeschooling family. (more photos can be seen on my cookie Facebook page)

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My cousin-in-law got married a few weeks ago and we attended her lovely barn wedding. Huge congrats to the happy couple! It was a beautiful evening complete with BBQ, cool weather, and fun family time.

Holy Week didn’t quite go as planned. We didn’t make it to church on Holy Thursday or Good Friday because our family was all sick. Sorry, no photos of that. (you’re welcome) We certainly offered up our sufferings and hardships during that tough time and thankfully we recovered just in time to…

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…celebrate Easter! We went to a beautiful Easter morning mass full of Alleluias and definitely gave thanks for our returned health on top of Jesus’ sacrifice and Resurrection of course! Then we enjoyed a delicious meal with the Spoolstra side of the family and relaxed the rest of the day. Just the sort of day we needed!

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And lastly, I’ve had a full plate with co-planning and running the first ever Catholic Women Blogging Network – Texas conference which was this past weekend. I’ll write another post about that soon but let’s just say it. was. amazing. Stay tuned for more on that front!

I hope that all of you had a blessed Lenten season too and a beautiful Easter. I look forward to writing and sharing more soon!