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)

Advertisements

Resting in Christ this Lent

rest in christ Lent

The other day, I was pushing Clare around the house in her stroller, trying to calm her ever busy body for afternoon nap time. I could tell that she was getting close to sleep when she looked up at me through the mesh window in the stroller canopy. Her big brown eyes seemed tired and I looked down at her and said, “I love you sweetheart, get some peaceful rest”. She gave a sweet smile and while still looking up at me, immediately closed her eyes, slipping into sleep.

I found myself thinking what a glorious moment I’d just witnessed. Not only because I had a long list of things to try and accomplish while she napped, but because of the complete peace, love, and comfort she displayed. Hearing a calm voice, seeing a genuine loving smile, and feeling the joy that she bring – that’s the same type of peace and comfort that God brings to each of us. And that’s what I’m seeking this Lent.

Life has been blessed but busy as always between everyday mom/wife duties, cookie orders, planning an event, and obligations to family and friends. And oh yeah, this little corner of the blogosphere too. So this Lent, along with some other little things I’ve given up and taken on, I’m allowing myself to take a blogging break.

I know, you’ll miss those 4 posts a week that I consistently crank out. (sarcasm)

But even when I’m not writing, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking that I should be writing, letting myself feel guilty for not giving it the attention I’d ideally like to. So on this second day of Lent, I say bye bye till Easter. I’ll still use social media sparingly along the way, so might run into you there. But I’m off to soak in some much needed rest in Christ during these 40 days. Know that I’ll keep yall in my prayers and I hope you and your families have a holy and fruitful season of Lent! God bless+

March (for Life) Madness

IMG_1242

Now I love traveling, but don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be home after a trip. Last week, a group of youth from our diocese (led by my husband) headed up to DC for the annual March for Life. Clare and I were also able to join and this marked my 10th year in a row to participate in this yearly celebration of life and peaceful demonstration in our nation’s capital. Of course we’d been watching the weather forecast and knew that an epic blizzard was headed that way. So needless to say, plan B’s were in the works in case we were snowed in. And oh did the snow come!

Fun fact: Jason and I were in the DC area for both Snowmageddon in 2010 and now Snowzilla in 2016 – the only record snowfalls there since we’ve been alive. How about those odds? 😉

IMG_1205

We headed over to the pre-March festivities on Friday, the anniversary of Roe v Wade. It was such a bizarre feeling. The weather was cold of course, but it didn’t seem like a massive blizzard was heading our way. After hearing some dynamic speakers, the March officially started and everyone was ready to get moving. Typically it’s more of a shuffle than a swift march due to the number of people packed into the streets but this year, we were moving right along.

The snow started falling towards the end of the route and was absolutely beautiful. By the end, Clare was crying, was totally over it, plus needed a nap/snack. Our group hustled back to the Metro and headed back to the hotel to hunker down for the impending snowfall. And it snowed.

And snowed.

And snowed some more.

IMG_1187

Thankfully we had warm shelter and plenty of food and weren’t stuck on a bus like others. (though hey, they made the most of it!) Our original flight was cancelled, the Metro we depended on was closed, and we hoped to make it out on Monday. (which, praise God, we did!)

So us pilgrims made the most of it. We had a day retreat that Jason masterfully put together on Saturday in a small conference room that the hotel let us use. There were great talks, mass, and a holy hour along with times for fun and fellowship. Although, I must admit, I missed most of it. But I quickly learned…

…toddler cabin fever is tough.

IMG_1215

Throughout the whole trip, Clare and I joined in with the group activities as we were able, around nap times and earlier than teenager bed times. Which is fine, such is the mom life, especially when your hubby is in charge of the group and dealing with crazy curveballs. But after being cooped up in close quarters, Clare started going stir crazy. During one of Jason’s talks, she would. not. sit. still. and wove in and out of the youth the entire time, wanting to play and get their attention. Then during mass, she played the same game.

IMG_1211

It was ok at first, but then got to be beyond distracting and I got annoyed. She refused to stay with me at the back of the room and no toys or snacks would convince her. On top of that, she was tired and started throwing a fit complete with pulling my hair and slapping me in the face. I had enough. With tears welling up in my eyes, I darted out and headed to our hotel room.

And I cried. Like, seriously bawled. The pregnancy hormones played a big part I’m sure, but this mom just felt fed up and frustrated. My mind and emotions were running with thoughts of “Why did I bother coming this year when I can’t even fully participate?” and “What am I thinking, traveling to World Youth Day this summer with a toddler AND baby??” to name a few.

Thankfully Clare settled down and took a great nap while I calmed myself and got some much needed quiet time to just think, pray, and chill. And I quickly realized that I did need to be there. I was growing as a mom and a person, learning how to navigate life more independently without always having help available. I was gaining experience and knowledge of what works when traveling with littles, which will seriously help this summer at WYD. I was acting as an example of the culture of life by being there with my toddler and obvious baby bump, even though it was exhausting and difficult at times. I was being an example of marriage, family, and motherhood to the youth in our group. I was showing how motherhood is worth it, despite the challenges, which is what women in crisis pregnancy situations need to hear and see.

12549067_10107632185241474_8649344674764742158_n

God surely wanted me to be there and once I got over my own stir crazy feelings, hormonal emotions, and insecurities, I’m beyond blessed to have been stuck in that blizzard and experience this year’s beautiful March for Life madness.

…were any of you at the March for Life this year? What was your experience?
…do any of you moms have crazy toddler travel stories and similar challenges?
…any advice for traveling overseas with a toddler and baby this summer?

Photo cred: Myself (photo 3, 4, 5), Jason Spoolstra (photo 1 & 2), and Randell Labio (photo 6)

Mommy, Mommy, When You Pray – Book Review & Giveaway

CP Book Cover

A friend of mine, Kimberly Cook, recently wrote and illustrated a children’s book named “Mommy, Mommy, When You Pray” and I have the pleasure of writing a little review! Let me start by saying that it’s a completely darling book. The message is perfect for little ones who see their prayerful moms and are curious about what exactly she’s doing. The rhymes are so sweet and make it easy for both moms and kiddos to read. Even as a newish mom, I can already relate to so many of the scenarios in the book and the joys that they bring to a mother’s heart. And though moms often have hard days and pray for other things like patience, I’m sure that little ones will love to hear that their mommy is very thankful to God for even the simple everyday things that they do. The words will make a child feel loved and cherished by their mother but also by God who made them unique and full of reflections of His own love.

The illustrations are adorable and were completely done by Kimberly too. Which is so impressive, especially to this lady who can barely draw a stick figure. The pictures are bright and perfectly portray family interactions and the children’s lively antics. They certainly made me think of my own little girl and her silly, sweet, and curious ways!

Kimberly wrote all about her inspiration for the book on her blog, The Lion of Design, and the entire process of writing, illustrating, publishing, and receiving the final product. Her children were the spark for the book and in her own words, “My mind began to turn to my young son, and how he observed me praying, and began asking questions. The Holy Spirit was moving in me, and I knew he was drawing my attention to this lesson for a reason. As a parent, I needed to be faithful to prayer for own soul, but also for my son’s. He was always watching and imitating, and kids can tell when things are genuine, or just for show. I started reflecting on what I wanted him to know about my prayer life. I hoped that he saw the joy, peace, and consolation I received in prayer. I also wanted him to know that I talk to God about him! How to raise him to be a man of God. How to give him a Godly example. How to discipline him, as the Psalms have laid out. How to create a house of peace and prayer, so that he may go forth into the world, and know how to return to God in prayer at any moment.”

One other neat thing that came to mind as I read was that this book is perfect for any Christian moms and kids. Of course I’m not opposed to obviously Catholic books, but it is also nice that this book can be given to Christian families of all sorts and appeals to a broader audience of prayerful moms. It would make a great gift (hint hint…Christmas present!) for any new or experienced mom to read with their little ones and convey their own thankfulness and joy along with God’s divine love.

For more info about this and other great books (along with a link to purchase) please visit Ministry 23. Also, the book is being translated into Spanish and should be available before Christmas!

Now for the giveaway! Kimberly has been gracious enough to provide a signed copy of her book to one lucky reader. There are several ways to enter, so pick which ones you want and please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway will end on 12/11/15 at midnight Central time.

  1. Comment on this blog post and tell me what you’re currently praying for. I’ll add these intentions to my prayer list! (1 entry)
  2. Visit The Lion of Design on Facebook and if you want, please “like” Kimberly’s page. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)
  3. Visit Vita Dulcis on Facebook and if you want, please “like” my page. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current followers can claim this too! (1 entry)
  4. Follow  The Lion of Design on Pinterest. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)
  5. Follow Vita Dulcis on Pinterest. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)
  6. Follow Vita Dulcis on Instagram. Leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current followers can claim this too! (1 entry)
  7. Subscribe to The Lion of Design via email (found on the right sidebar) and leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. (1 entry)
  8. Subscribe to Vita Dulcis via email (found on the right sidebar) and leave a separate comment saying that you’ve done so. Current subscribers can claim this too! (1 entry)

Good luck and I hope that all of you are having a lovely and prayerful Advent!

*Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post or giveaway, however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own.*

Our Beautiful News

Sorry that I’ve been pretty MIA around here lately. Besides the busy mom/wife life, having something going on practically every night lately, cookie decorating projects, and planning a blogger event in my free time, another thing has been taking up lots of my time.

….growing a baby.

IMG_0117

That’s right, we’re having a(nother) baby! Kiddo #2 is due in May 2016 and we are thrilled. Plus apparently we’re consistent and are fans of May babies. 😉

As I’ve mentioned before, we struggled with infertility for years so had no idea how easy or hard it’d be to get pregnant again. Well it looks like that laparoscopic surgery worked wonders in our case, because this time around, we did nothing to make it happen. Like, no drugs or anything. Truly miraculous!

We got the positive pregnancy test on Labor Day. I waited a little longer than I usually would to take the test just because I halfway thought my body was doing some final adjusting after I completely stopped nursing. Little did I know, my body was adjusting to something else!

big sis

It was a blast telling our family. We got a “Big Sister” shirt for Clare and used that to break the news as we got together with both sides of the family last weekend. It’s so wonderful having a loving and supportive family who are beyond excited about our growing family.

Unfortunately this time around, I’ve had some morning sickness. Blah. Not to the point of throwing up (thankfully!) but just that lingering nausea and overall ickiness that has been lasting till about noon. No fun, but I’m hanging in there. And any morning sickness tips are very welcome in the comments.

IMG_0116

We had our first appointment last Friday down in Austin since they’re currently monitoring my progesterone levels. I do have to take a supplement for now but thankfully my levels aren’t quite as low as last time around. Now I’m working on finding a new birth center since we’ve moved. Luckily, there are several in our area to choose from, so we just have to find the right fit.

Please pray for us and that baby and I are healthy during this pregnancy. Know that yall will be in my prayers as well, especially those who are struggling with infertility. It still feels bizarre that I’m at this point after the many years of wondering if we’d ever get here! But as my buddy St. Padre Pio always said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

My Breastfeeding Journey – Struggles, Success, and Weaning Cold Turkey

becky_005_finalwm

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, I wanted to share a little about my journey as a nursing mama and how it all came to a sudden halt about two weeks ago. While I definitely encourage moms to breastfeed because of the many benefits, I totally understand and respect moms that either don’t want to or truly can’t nurse their babies. Just felt like I had to include a disclaimer – no mommy wars please! We all do what’s best for our kiddos, families, and circumstances. Charitably moving on.

From the get go, I knew that I wanted to try breastfeeding. I honestly didn’t know the first thing about it but was confident that I could learn and get the hang of it. I mean, how hard could it be? (said the naive first time mom) Our little Clare caught on quickly and seemed to be a natural from the beginning. But then when my milk supply came in full force, we had some struggles. In those first few weeks and months when my body and supply was adjusting, I came to realize that nursing can be hard! Clare had some real difficulties – she would get really fussy and keep unlatching when the flow and letdown were too much for her to handle. Then when she got upset, I’d get frustrated too and before I knew it we were both crying. This was hard enough to handle at home, let alone trying to feed her in public while attempting to keep covered and stay discreet with cries and little arms flailing.

It took some time and attempts at different techniques but eventually everything evened out, we got into a beautiful groove, and it all felt natural again. But I can absolutely understand why some women might get fed up and throw in the towel. I’m extremely thankful that I had/have amazing support from my husband (first and foremost) along with my friends and family. Support and encouragement go a long long way and can make all the difference, especially if you’re struggling.

10565215_10201617509198540_1453186897623121759_n

Also, a huge shoutout to moms who have to pump while they’re at work. (or pump anywhere, for that matter) Keep up the great work! The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is actually “Breastfeeding and Work. Let’s Make it Work!” While I’m a stay at home mom now since we moved, I did go back to work part time for several months after my maternity leave ended. It can definitely be difficult to squeeze in the time and find a good place to pump while you’re at work. But again, I had the best support! My boss and coworkers all understood and encouraged/helped me to make the time. For that, I am eternally grateful. And I’m sure Clare is too!

Clare became such a champ after those beginning issues and loved to nurse. I will always cherish the bond we created and was in awe of the ability of my body to nourish hers in such an amazing way. Such a miraculous way that women’s bodies were made! I nursed her exclusively for the first six months, which was my initial goal. From there, we started to slowly introduce other foods but still nursed her several times a day. As she ate more and more solid foods and started to grow up way too quickly for this mom’s liking, we gradually transitioned to nursing only at nap time and at night. We did co-sleeping for a long time, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it worked for us this time around. At that point, she was still in the habit of stirring several times at night to nurse. And while I loved being able to continue giving her that nourishment and comfort, I was also feeling ready to soon bring that chapter to a close. Plus we were already working on her sleep habits and transitioning her to a separate sleeping space, which was hard when she was in the habit of having me and my milk right next to her on demand.

Jason and I had planned to really work on gradual weaning (especially at night) when he got back from his trip to Ohio last month. Also in the meantime, I’d scheduled a dental appointment for Clare, for her general check up along with some curious spots I noticed on her front two teeth. Long story short, she does have some issues with those teeth and the dentist told me to stop nursing NOW in order to work towards resolving it. I was definitely not prepared for that sudden news. Even though we’d been planning to work on weaning, I was a bit emotional about how unexpected and abrupt it was happening. In the long run, it was probably better that I didn’t see it coming. Otherwise, knowing myself, I’d have been much more weepy about the fact that I’d nursed my baby girl for the last time. It’d already happened without me even realizing it at the time!

IMG_9718

That first day was ROUGH. Poor Clare didn’t understand why her favorite comfort and lifelong routine was suddenly off limits. Cue the crying and heartbreaking sad faces. It was hard to bear but I’m a total rule follower and forced myself to follow doctor’s orders. Clare’s favorite stuffed lamb quickly became her new comfort and soother. She would sit on her bed, fuss off and on, and pluck at little lamb’s fur until she finally gave in and fell asleep. Nap time #1 took forever to happen but nap #2 was a little better and faster to occur. Bedtime that night took a while and the serious overnight sleep training began. She awoke several times that first night but luckily dozed off again quickly. Then on her 15 month Bday this week, she slept through the night for the first time EVER. Praise Jesus.

We are making great progress in the sleep department much to mom and dad’s joy. It’s hard to believe that I hadn’t slept a full night uninterrupted for 15 months!! But in hindsight it honestly flew by and I just got used to it. Plus coffee helps. Also looking back, those nursing struggles in the beginning now seem so small and fleeting. But at the time, they sure were stressful. So hang in there moms if you’re having a hard time. I’m beyond thankful to have nursed my little girl as long as I did and will forever cherish that time we had together. Especially as a first time mom. Now I will be more prepared and experienced for (God willing) our future children!

If you have any nursing stories or experiences that you’d like to share (good or bad) I’d love to hear them in the comments! Also, a huge shout out to Allison from Seven Arches Photography for the main photo on this post. She is a photographer in DFW who loves to capture images and stories of nursing moms. She has a special series of breastfeeding photos which I was able to be a part of last year. Look how teeny tiny Clare was! This was also during that fussy wiggly nursing stage, which made for an interesting photo shoot! See our story here if you’re interested.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all you past/present/future nursing mamas and those who support them!

Monday Morsels #14

Hello hello folks. Let’s just ignore the minor fact that this Monday Morsels is being posted on a Tuesday ok? I fully intended to publish it yesterday but then life and a sick baby happened and I really didn’t want to wait another week to post it SO lets just pretend. K thanks. I appreciate the make believe cooperation!

spring va pink

Two weeks ago we took a trip up to DC so Jason could attend some meetings for new diocesan youth ministry employees. We stayed with our family in northern VA and had some fun adventures! I forgot how beautiful that area is in the spring. Clare and I took some nice walks around the neighborhood since the weather was perfect and enjoyed all the blooms.

gettysburg

On one of our free days, we took a family trip to Gettysburg, PA. Jason is a Civil War buff and wanted to visit the area again plus give Clare and I some history lessons. It is a gorgeous area – we did the self guided driving tour and really enjoyed the step back in our nation’s history. There is something incredibly eerie but amazing about visiting battlefields where so many lives were lost years and years ago. Plus it was neat to see the place where Lincoln gave his famous address. Definitely visit if you ever have a chance!

friend visits

While Jason worked, I got to go out and play a bit! First, I met up with my friend Lauren and her 3 kiddos at Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Old Town Alexandria. The ice cream was SO delicious (I got red velvet cake – yum!) and then we walked around by the Potomac and let the kids run around while us moms caught up on life. I also got to see my friend Kate and meet her baby boy! We realized that we hadn’t seen each other in person since my wedding (going on 7 years) which is crazy. But she’s one of those friends that you don’t skip a beat with and it feels like you hang out every week. We were going to meet in Baltimore but with the rioting and all, ended up meeting elsewhere in MD for lunch at Nando’s Peri-Peri. I’ve been there a few times and besides their infamous chicken, I was excited to order my fave side dish on their menu which I’ve been meaning to recreate. It has butternut squash, onions, cranberries, grilled corn, chilis, and cilantro. So so good.

accotink trip

Did I mention that the weather was perfect during our trip? Aunt Linda and I took Clare to the nearby Lake Accotink Park where we enjoyed some playground time, a ride on the carousel, and a nice long walk on the lakeside trail. The fresh air and gorgeous scenery were just divine.

first bday

Then the day after our return, little miss Clare turned one! My oh my did this year fly by. I may have gotten a bit emotional at one point, thinking about how big my baby has gotten and how much I love her. We had a nice day and my friend Mary Pat came by for a visit with her son who turned one just the week before. We had a fun little celebration with plenty of play time, bubbles, lunch, and I baked some #1 cookies for dessert. My cookie monster Clare went after hers while I tried to get a photo together. Pretty sure they enjoyed them!

IMG_8834

Then this past weekend, we hosted Clare’s first Birthday party combined with our housewarming party finally. We had a great turnout – lots of family and friends were able to come and it was so fun having lots of kids running around too. They mostly ran around upstairs and while it’s always quiet up there right now, it was awesome hearing them play up there. Better get used to it because that’ll be our normal soon enough!

cupcake

Clare love love loved her Birthday cupcake! I couldn’t wait to see how she reacted to it and she didn’t disappoint. At first, she just kinda picked at it and took some tiny tastes. Then she realized how fun the frosting felt in her hands and kept squishing it around. Then the chocolatey fingers made their way to her face, hair, and everywhere so I had to run her to the bath tub for a quick wash down and outfit change.

cookies

I hope that all of you moms (in every form and fashion) had a wonderful Mother’s Day! And know that I was praying for all of you who might be struggling with infertility and faced the day with longing and heavy hearts. I’d been baking up a storm for the party – besides the cupcakes, I made a TON of mini flower cookies and loved how they turned out, along with some number one shaped cookies. While I was in cookie mode, I made a pretty bouquet for my mom plus the “Mom” cookies. Also, just to brag on my wonderful hubby, he came home early from work on Friday and surprised me with a massage he’d scheduled for that afternoon. What a treat!

IMG_8831

And finally, to that crazy life and sick baby thing I mentioned before… Clare started having tummy troubles on Saturday night (I’ll spare you the lovely details) and by Monday morning, had a fever and some red flag symptoms that made me worry. After a visit to the local doctor, they sent us to Cooks Children’s Hospital to look more into it. We ended up spending the whole day there and poor Clare was a trooper. I couldn’t get over the hospital bracelet on her tiny wrist and though she was tired and fussy by the end of it all, she looked pretty cute in that little hospital gown. We’re still waiting for some test results but she seems to be on the upswing thankfully!

Now for some linkage and warning, they’re all mom/motherhood related this time around!

An amazing video about making a blind mom’s ultrasound extra special.

This post about feeling like you’re too good to be a mom and wishing for another lifestyle. So real and honest!

Some history behind Mother’s Day that I never knew.

This couple who have a special beautiful baby though many criticize their choice.

When you want to do big things for God but realize that motherhood is pretty huge.

Lastly, I loved this article because it made me think of my wonderful and low maintenance mom.