Holy Week

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As Catholics, Holy Week is a very important, reflective time for us. Of course, Easter preparations are underway, and we even had an early egg hunt. However,  we try not to let the joy of Easter come prematurely. I know, that last sentence totally hammers home the Catholic guilt and our infatuation with suffering, right? Well the truth is, without Good Friday, the day we fast and reverently remember Jesus’ crucifixion, there would be no Easter Sunday; furthermore, there would be no Catholicism.

This is why we aren’t afraid to hang crucifixes in our churches. it is the crux of our faith. Had Easter never came, and Jesus never raised from the dead, then there would be no Catholicism either. After all, His rising is what solidifies his victory over death and evil. But the crucifixion can’t be so easily dismissed.

This week has brought on a lot of struggles. I have had a double ear infection for the past two weeks, been trying to pave the way for a potential photography business, and I’ve had 2 energetic children begging me to go outside. It has been a huge temptation to be irritable, throw pity parties, and give up on taking care of others. I’m not saying I never gave into this temptation, if I did my husband would surely rat me out, but when I DO fall, I try to make an extra effort to re-attune myself to the needs of my family and friends.

So, I will continue to be reflective and some what solemn for the rest of the week, as I navigate my daily chores and prepare for the upcoming holiday. I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter!

Love Day

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Valentine’s Day was always a major holiday in my family. My mom would wake up extra early to make us a special breakfast, and she would usually make us little gift bags with either our favorite candy or a toy we wanted. She highlighted that no matter what our daily struggles as a family were, she loved us regardless. As we got older we started extending this same charity to our friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Now, I try to do some thing special for my family.

This year, it turns out we’re all sick. Sophie is the sickest and while thatwould typically make me the most sympathetic toward her, she is unusually sassy. I know it is most likely because she’s not feeling well, but for some reason my reactions don’t reflect that knowledge. Every time she snaps at me, I snap back. We’ve apologized to each other multiple times already, and I’m hoping Valentine’s day will be a good day for more love and reconciliation.

Some day I hope to explain to my kids that Catholicism behind Valentine’s day. St. Valentine was a martyr who was beheaded because of his Catholic faith. We recognize both his martyrdom, Jesus’ own suffering, and the love of all martyrs, who preferred to be killed rather than stop loving Jesus. Even though Valentine’s day gets a bad rep for being superficial, it actually does contain and preach the true meaning of love: suffering. However, I am dealing with a toddler and baby, so we will probably just stick to the Daniel Tiger-esque “Love Day” type of celebration (you know, “Ugga Mugga” and all that…)

Either way, I am excited and feeling the weight of my responsibility to teach my children how to love others. Hopefully my example will speak for itself! I hope you all take time to express love and gratitude for the people in your life who support you and are always there for you.

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[My mom still celebrates with us. She sent us a care package with the ingredients to make these adorable love themed cupcakes!] 

Continuing Celebrations

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After the holidays, most people talk about there being a slump. Well, in our family we have J’s birthday come at the end of January, then we will have Cora’s 1st birthday in February, a bit of a lull in March, Easter in April, and then we are going to go to California again in May (which is also Sophie’s birthday month!) Many exciting things will be happening for us this year, and I’m hoping to make 2017 a good one.

I wanted to brag about how we will be celebrating well into summer, but also I wanted to share my resolutions with you. Here they are:

  1. Be more aware of spending. I know this is a resolution for many people EVERY year, but this is the first time this resolution has made it to my list. With 2 kids and a mortgage, I need to make a better effort of limiting my spending.
  2. Move more. Notice how I DIDN’T say “go to the gym ___ times a week.” Nope. My resolution is just to move more. Whether that means playing at the park with my kids, taking them to the mall to walk around, or hopping on my stationary bike in the basement, I need to get my body moving!
  3. Eat healthier. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I say it every year. Seriously though? I’m addicted to sugar. Like, once I have it, I keep craving it and thinking bout it until I can eat some thing sweet again. I’m hoping the more I move my body, the more I will crave foods that can sustain energy and therefore keep me moving.
  4. Be nicer to myself. Last year I had a mean battle with depression and anxiety. A lot of the time, I was being way too hard on myself! I am so gentle, compassionate, and understanding with many of my friends, s why can’t I give myself that same courtesy?

What are your resolutions?

Holiday Recap

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I hope you all enjoyed time celebrating and being close with family. I know we did. Sophie was much more aware of the surprise and excitement of Christmas this year. It is so fun to watch her awareness develop, and her awe in the simplest of things. Unfortunately, we had a family member pass and a few others end up in the hospital. Even i took a trip to the emergency room after I fell while holding Cora. In an attempt to break her fall by taking a step as I was falling, I landed completely on the top of my foot.

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I meant to prepare a post for you all on Monday, but most of my time was spent in and out of doctors’ offices. Even amidst the suffering, we were still able to take advantage of the joyful moments in between. My mother-in-law and I took Sophie to her first nutcracker ballet, we got to see some cousins we don’t see often, and we enjoyed handing out our homemade gifts to friends and family.

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J’s birthday is at the end of this month, plus we have a few friends expecting babies. The new year has really inspired me to take better care of my family, my mental and physical health. Even though my foot is broken and I can’t stick to my regular zumba routine, I am eating better and trying to do some upper body movements to keep me lean until I am cleared to go back to the gym.

Be on the lookout for a resolutions post some time this week! Cheers!

Recovering From California

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For those who don’t know, we had an unfortunate repeat of our trip from last year, in that we all contracted the stomach flu while visiting family in CA. Yup, we all had it last year[me, when I was 7 months pregnant with Cora,] and so I thought, Surely we won’t get it 2 years in a row…. The Lord is kind and merciful…. I won’t pack medicine because what are the odds? The odds are pretty high, apparently.

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The Lord is still kind and merciful though, as no one ended us seriously suffering [the Christmas we found out my youngest brother had Type 1 Diabetes comes to mind…] and we made it home safe. The past few days have been spent in recovery: catching up on laundry, finishing Christmas shopping, adjusting back to the Eastern Time Zone, etc. In an attempt not to have this Christmas “ruined” by a series of unfortunate events, I am trying to really jumpstart our Christmas spirit with lights, cookie decorating, and religious traditions [like our advent wreath]

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We have plans to do more cookie decorating with friends later in the week, and I am looking forward to doing a little more shopping and seeing The Nutcracker Ballet with Sophie for the first time. Funny enough, it will be my mother-in-law’s first time seeing it, too!

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Poor Cora was hit the hardest with the illness while we were traveling, but it has been a consolation to all of us to see her slowly returning to her smiley self. The hardest part about being sick on vacation, was all the hype I prepared Sophie for. She kept asking when we were going to see Mickey Mouse and the princesses. Because every one was so sick, we never made it to Disneyland. I felt like I let her down. I know she will eventually forget, but nothing breaks a parent’s heart like letting down their kid .

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We’ve also had our first real snow, so it has been wonderful to cuddle up next to the fire as we spend our first winter in this new house! I just think there is some thing so festive about a fireplace!

I hope you all can find time this week to do one of your favorite Christmas activities! And I hope you all avoid the terrible flu we got.

Christmas Tour!

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Since we are taking some time to visit my family in California, we felt like we had to put up some decorations early, so as not to feel rushed later in the month. The girls have been having a blast “helping” us, and it has been so fun celebrating Cora’s first Christmas as a curious 9 month infant.

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I like having creative control of our main tree, so I had this felt tree made for Sophie to decorate as she pleases. She can re-decorate it every day, and I don’t have to worry about her pulling down a tree or breaking lights. Window clings are another thing I let her go wild with though, Cora has been motivated to eat them like fruit roll-ups.

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Our new house has so much more space than the old, and so many surfaces to decorate. I have really enjoyed the challenge of decorating a new, bigger home. Even the dining room can have its own set of decorations.

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The holidays are much more magical now that we have children. Even J gets giddy picking out toys for them! Since our mantle now holds all of the TV related electronics, I had to find a different place to put the stockings. The DVD case has been acting as a decorated “mantle” all summer, so I decided to add the stocking here as well.

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Since the first time I saw the Willow Tree nativity set, I was obsessed with it. J doesn’t like that they are faceless, but bought it for my last year regardless. We have a few other nativity scenes that are more his style, but this one is special to me.

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Since I hosted this Thanksgiving and we don’t have cable, I wanted to have activities for every one to participate in. We had the typical game of apples-to-apples, but I also bought a set of 6 ginger bread houses to decorate. It was a lot of fun, and now I have pretty kitchen decoration made by family and friends.

Our main tree is always my pride and joy. I have many natural colors with pops of blue. We have a devotion to St. Francis, so our tree is adorned with woodland critters as well as religious imagery.

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We have a few “fun” decorations for the kids as well. I love these Jim Shore carvings, and J has slowly been collecting some for each holiday. Now that Sophie is old enough to recognize certain characters, it has been fun to watch her light up when she spots her favorites around the house.

What’s your favorite decoration?

 

Fall Time

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Fall is in full swing, here in the Ohio Valley. Being the week of Halloween, there have been many fun activities that are fall themed. It’s part of the reason I was M.I.A last week, as far as updating the blog went… We went trick-or-treating at the mall, attended a fall festival at the university for the families of staff members, and we baked pumpkin spice cookies.

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Sophie has been increasingly affectionate toward me lately, which is nice since she is either being her introverted self, or she awaits daddy’s arrival from work to unleash her softer side. Perhaps it is the cool, fall cuddle weather? Either way, I’m not complaining.

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Growing up in California, I never got to experience fall. The seasons hardly change, few trees even lost their leaves, and palm trees of course, are perpetually the same. Fall still seems new and exciting to me despite having lived here for almost a decade now. Fall reminds me of the season in which I met J, and our romance blossomed.

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I love being able to share this gorgeous season with our children. There is so much excitement as we head into the holiday season!

Annual Pumpkin Patch Trip!

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One of the benefits of living in Ohio is that there are many farms within a 30 minute drive. This gives us access to animals, fresh produce, and other products like milk and cheese. There are also many fun, seasonal activities. Apple picking, and going to pumpkin patches!

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We made our annual trip to Hozack Farm with the girls and it was a blast. Sophie is much more mobile and interested this year than she was last year. Cora loves all things sensory, so she enjoyed herself despite only being able to crawl.

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We came home with a pumpkin Sophie carefully painted, a huge bag of kettle corn [which I have to admit, I ate all the way home] , and a cute ghost with marquee lights.

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The trip was definitely a success. There was free parking and hayrides, so it was an affordable event for us to go to. Though, Sophie was nervous to get on the tractor for the hayride because she was still traumatized by our last trip to Amish country where the hayride was bombarded by hungry cows.

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It was the perfect fall day, warm and sunny with a light cool breeze. As fun as it was, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that fall is barreling toward us so quickly. Soon we will be hosting Thanksgiving, taking a trip to California, and preparing for a harsh winter. There are a lot of changed happening within myself as well, that may have effected my mood that day. Overall though, it was nice to live in the moment and enjoy time with family.

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Will you take your kids to the pumpkin patch this weekend?

Spring has — just kidding, it’s Ohio.

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Yeah, I know, I cursed this land by typing a blog about spring time in Ohio. Sigh… Despite being perfectly lovely weather for the Easter holiday, it is going to get down into the 30’s again and while I’m bummed about the chilly weather, I actually have plans to stay coup’d up in the house. You see my online mommy friends talked me into potty training Sophie in 3 days. Chances are, if you’re a new mom, you’ve heard of this crazy, yet popular method. You let your kid run around commando all day, make them drink copious amounts of water, and then let the magic happen. Yes, they will have accidents – with the defense being, in any potty training method you’re going to have accidents – but clean them up, encourage the child to use their potty next time, and repeat until it works.

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Normally, I’d laugh it off and call it wishful thinking, but there are hundreds of positive mom testimonies to this method! In any case, you have to spend every waking moment with the child for 3 days straight, suggesting they use the bathroom every 20 minutes. So, going out would be near impossible. The method even demands you wake them up in the middle of the night to go potty. I’m sleep deprived as it is, which makes me NOT want to wake my toddler up in the middle of the night, but hey, I’m going to be up feeding a newborn at some point anyway, so might as well let Sophie join the party. It will be all worth it in 3 days! (Or so they tell me).

If this method fails, no big deal. The most important thing is getting her more familiar with the big girl toilet. In a perfect world, we’ll only have a couple accidents per day, and in 3 days time,  I’ll have a potty trained tot, and the weather will have warmed back up again!  (Now THAT’S wishful thinking.)

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We are still celebrating Easter (Catholics celebrate the Easter octave – meaning 8 days) so there is candy all around the house and decorations still up. Sophie is going through a phase of being obsessed with bunnies, so she’s a happy camper. Cora, on the other hand, is not such a happy camper. After ruling out reflux, we are now on to the possibility of her having a food allergy. I’m on a strict no egg, no peanut, no fish, no dairy, and no gluten diet  (all the Easter treats are not helping currently…) until Friday. Hopefully it helps her, then we can start ruling things out one by one. Maybe it isn’t even an allergy at all, maybe she just has colic! Who knows… All I know is that my sleep and sanity are seriously suffering and will continue to until we figure this thing out.

Otherwise, we had a pretty eventful Easter! Egg hunts, time with family, time for relaxation, and TONS of pictures! I hope you all did too, and if you’re Catholic (and even if you aren’t) remember to keep celebrating that resurrection until the end of the octave!

Good Friday

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I’m going to be really transparent with you: This was an exhausting week. Not exhausting like “I’ve been really busy and got an hour less of sleep than I normally do…” No. This has been a week where the baby cried every 20 minutes, the house was chaos as we started transitioning our winter things to spring, I was running on only a few hours of sleep every day, and the toddler decided to test some boundaries (as they do…) J came home for lunch one day to find me on the floor crying because I literally didn’t know how to handle everything.

We’re human, and some times we can’t handle everything. It doesn’t matter if we should be able to, it doesn’t matter if the task seems easy or hard, some times we just can’t handle what’s on our plate and we need to call reinforcements. Luckily for me, I have awesome reinforcements. That afternoon, J took the rest of the day off to help me handle what I couldn’t do alone. He let me get in a 4 hour nap that my body was begging for, and after that, a couple of my friends dropped in just to see if I needed any help with the kids. Just when I couldn’t feel more loved, a mom from church delivered me a home cooked dinner and brownies.

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I am loved and I am lucky. When Jesus suffered, he was alone. I can’t imagine how that must have felt, as I just explained, I am easily overwhelmed and isolated just with the work of being a Stay-at-home mom. He took on unbearable pain, and he did it alone. My week has been rough, but ending it with Good Friday has certainly helped me to keep things in perspective. He did it alone because he loves us, and he was capable of doing it alone because he was the Son of God. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in that, I’m more a kin to Eve than I am to Christ. She was also alone when she decided to eat that apple. I’d like to think that suffering alone would help me be closer to Jesus than to Eve, but let’s be honest: I’m a sinner… 99% of the time, I’m going to drift closer to Eve. I’m sure suffering alone has its merits, but for me holiness comes through humility and admitting that I need help. I can’t do it alone. Holiness is being seen stripped of all my armor and perceived strength,  lying in a puddle of my own tears. So that is what I did this week. It was hard, exhausting, and embarrassing at times, but it’s what I needed, and I can’t help feeling like a new woman as I emerge out of Good Friday and head toward Easter Sunday.

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Part of the reason our house is in such disarray  is because we have another BIG change we’ll be experiencing soon. Some of you may have guessed it already but,  we bought a house! OK, so the sale is still “pending” but we are so excited and I’ve been wanting to announce it here for a couple weeks. Yes, I am overwhelmed because we just had  a new baby, switched to a new church, and now we’re going to be moving into a new house. These are all fabulous changes of course, but to a person with anxiety it has been overstimulating to say the least. Anyway, I’ll be posting updates about the house when I can (be on the lookout for pictures soon!) because we have exciting updates planned for it!

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Most importantly: have a happy Easter everyone! and don’t expect too many posts for the next few days, as we will be celebrating this joyful feast with family, and I want you to, too!