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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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:

ordination

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!

wyd meet and greet

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 #22

Hello everyone! I hope that all of you have had a lovely holiday season between Thanksgiving and now the current Christmas season. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a family update so I wanted to play catch up with some highlights!

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My darling goddaughter was baptized – yay! It was a beautiful ceremony full of family and friends and baby girl was a total champ through it all. We had a party afterwards to celebrate the little saint which was tons of fun. Congrats baby M, I’m so excited to be your godmother!

thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving came and went quickly but was a lovely holiday. This year we were with my husband’s side of the family and had quite the delicious feast. I made some pecan pie bars (SO delish) and a sweet potato casserole with the best of both worlds – marshmallows for some folks and a crumble for others.

catherine

Somehow I’m already halfway through this pregnancy! We went in for our 20 weekish appointment and anatomy scan and found out that…baby #2 is a girl! As much as I’d love to have a boy (maybe next time!) I am thrilled to have another sweet girl and that Clare will have a little sister. I always wanted a sister so can’t wait for Clare and Catherine to have that special relationship.

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This fall/winter has been busy busy with my cookie decorating business that’s starting to take off. I now have business cards, a legit budget, and whoa things are getting official! I made some fun Thanksgiving sets, had a big corporate order for a local MMA studio, and then Christmas cookies galore. I’m so thankful for this way to use my talents, have a major creative outlet, plus help support my family in a small way.

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While delivering some cookies to my cousin, we made a visit to the Dallas Arboretum right by her house. The two of us plus our littles enjoyed a beautiful day outside and got to see their amazing Twelve Days of Christmas display. We also visited the new(ish) Children’s Adventure Garden which was awesome. Clare didn’t want to leave! They have all sorts of daily scheduled activities for kids along with various interactive areas for them to explore. We will definitely go back again, especially since we didn’t get to see the whole thing.

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And now we somehow already find ourselves in the season of Christmas. We had lots of fun family time the last week or so – my big family celebration was the Saturday before and was a blast as always. Then on Christmas Eve afternoon, we had a gathering with Jason’s dad’s side of the family. After that, we went to an evening mass where Clare was a huge wiggle worm but it was such a beautiful liturgy. On Christmas morning, we had some time with just our little family and Clare was surprised with her new fort. So fun! Then we went over to brunch with Jason’s mom’s side of the family and afterwards, went back home for some much needed rest and relaxation. I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas as well and continue to enjoy these last days of the season!

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As many of yall probably saw, there’s been some crazy weather here in north Texas. My hometown of Rowlett was unfortunately wrecked by an EF4 tornado on the 26th. Thankfully everyone is safe and fine but many houses weren’t so lucky. The disaster zone was dangerously close to my parents’ house – way too close for comfort. It’s been heartbreaking seeing photos and videos of your old stomping grounds in disarray.

If anyone feels called to help those in need, I’m going to selfishly share the story of one particular family that could certainly use it. If you remember, my best friend Brittany unexpectedly passed away just over a year ago, leaving behind her husband Walter and a sweet little boy named Nolan. They have been strong and were moving forward despite the huge loss but sadly, their house was destroyed in the tornado. As Walter said, they’ve been through worse and thankfully both of them are safe, but I can’t imagine facing yet another major tragedy. A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Walter and Nolan, so if you are able, please consider making a donation to a family that is in real need. Or if you want to spread the love, a friend compiled a page of all the current campaigns and made sure that they’re all valid. And if money is tight, please keep these families in your prayers!

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Finally, I wanted to announce the giveaway winner of the book that I reviewed, “Mommy, Mommy, When You Pray”. Congrats to Jodi! I will be in touch soon to get your contact info and hope that you and your kiddos enjoy the book!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

The Cookie Challenge

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To make a long story short, earlier this year, I delivered some surprise cookies to my friend at work for her birthday. She shared them with her coworkers at the UNT Autism Center and they loved them. (yay!) Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the center was planning their 2 year anniversary event and asked if I could make some special decorated cookies for it! They wanted some #2 cookies in the UNT colors and some puzzle piece cookies, the symbol for autism, in red, blue, and yellow.

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