Joan Cecilia Anno.

Born on June 28th – 7 lbs 4 oz -19 1/2 inches

She is named after one of my favorite saints who exhibited such courage and piety. A woman who feared the Lord and looked pretty ridiculous while doing it. She was made fun of, told she was crazy and was hearing voices (when she was being ministered to by other Saints), and was martyred. Joan of Arc had such purity and light in a time of darkness, and she was a F I E R C E leader. That is definitely what I hope for with little Joan. 

The second part of her name, another strong Saint! One who stood against evil and converted many. You should look up Saint Cecilia. 

The third part of her name, Anno, was a woman clothed in so much grace and humility. As well as humor! My grandmother. After multiple health problems and strokes, she was left half paralyzed in a wheelchair, but she never let it get her down. She taught me so much about aging gracefully, compassion, and joy. I miss her dearly and I hope that Joan gets her gleeful spirit and gentle kindness. 

This girl has a lot to live up to and many wonderful, strong, women to help guide her through her life. I can’t wait to see the beautiful woman that she becomes. 


Birthdays, Birthdays, and more Birthdays!

June has been the month of birthdays! Between friends and family and extended family, there have been more birthdays than ever, so we have all eaten a LOT of cake and I’m pretty sure the last few pregnancy pounds of mine are solidly Birthday cake…

Daniel Tiger’s Trolley! #thingsyoudidntknowaboutbeforeparenting

Sweetest friends being excessively patient with the 2 year old’s lack of wanting to take turns…

We hosted a sweet Daniel Tiger birthday party for our crazy, newly minted two year old and it was such a hit! I think think the parents had fun too although we all sweated like crazy and I wished I had not worn makeup by the end of the day. All in all, it’s one of my favorite memories so far, and I can’t wait for more birthdays for this little man. Each one will be so special!

And then, along came my birthday and it was the best birthday that I’ve had in YEARS. We celebrated small but joyfully. Daniel bought me a cake from a bakery, dropped me off and picked me up from mass, and when I got into the car, Eliot was holding a big bouquet of flowers for me. They wrote cards that house the cutest signatures from them and then we hung out for the rest of the day with some of our closest friends who drove 4 hours to see us on my birthday!! 

And then, I had a visit from my sister and brother who came to see our new place (after a year, I guess it isn’t new anymore).

Eliot sensed the intense best hugger vibes from my brother and they stayed like this for about three minutes.

My niece helped Eliot overcome his terror of bath bubbles and they had a blast in the baby pool!

My sister’s birthday also came and went during June! Busy month!

And finally, we had Eliot’s official birthdate in which we woke him up, told him it was his birthday (he was getting quite familiar with the word birthday by this point) and laughed when his first response was “we eat cake?” We then took him for a drive an hour outside of the city to a free petting zoo where he enjoyed many goats and laughed really hard at “birdzilla” and her gobbles (a turkey). Daniel took him for ice cream that night while I got to enjoy a bit of alone time after the month’s craziness. Now I’m ready to have another birthday in June if this baby ever wants to come out…

Summertime Stories

You know that moment when you’re so pregnant that your belly sticks out below your maternity shirts and the only thing that feels remotely comfortable is your husband’s old t-shirt? And then do you know the moment that follows your putting on the shirt to discover this CLEAN garment smells like wet dog? That’s this moment. Seriously… I thought it was a fluke the first time I wore it and daniel agreed that it had a weird smell, but this is the second time, a different wash, and it smells like wet dog! I use dryer sheets with a pleasant smell that usually makes our clothes smell heavenly… tell me your laundry secrets! What detergent do you use? Are you a dryer sheet or fabric softener person? In the mean time, I’ll be over here smelling like wet dog because I’m so pregnant I’d rather smell terrible than give up the freedom of breathing, and not itching. I’m sure I’ll be panting soon anyway…

This is 36 weeks ish. I’m having such a time trying to process the fact that I’ll soon have two kiddos! I can’t believe I’m about to be a mom to a newborn again. 

Eliot got to have a visit from grandparents and has been doing puzzles non stop since they left (this is a photo of grandma and her bday gift to him). He also has been begging for horsey rides on my knee and some old nursery rhyme that my mom taught him, but I don’t know it so he always finishes the ride slightly disappointed…

In preparation for his “tiger-tastic” birthday party, we have been baking up a storm! This was his first experience baking cake. He’s almost not scared of the mixer now, but still requests to be held while it runs. 

He got his first taste of buttercream icing on his first beater to lick sweet stuff off of, and I think it was a huge success! It was 15 minutes of peace and quiet while he carefully cleaned the beater of all its icing!

We are hosting a small daniel tiger themed party with a piñata, pool time, and his best little buddies, so I drew a big mural on the wall of our courtyard which he adores already. “TROLLEY! DAN TIGAAA!” The party is tomorrow and I’m pretty excited for him. 

Daniel has been taking Eliot to the splash pad during my mom meets and they have a blast running through the sprinklers! Look at this big kid!

We finally got our fence fixed so the neighbors dog cannot climb the tree and present herself in our yard! And she can’t gnaw the boards down anymore either. It’s been so nice to have an accessible backyard again! Don’t mind the dirty windows. I always wash windows when hardcore nesting before giving birth. The living room ones are done now and I’m sure these will get washed in a day or two. Daniel and I joke that this is catholic housecleaning. Two years ago, I washed windows, nesting. Here I am two years later doing it again. 😉 

My First Peg Doll Swap

Yesterday, the mom’s group at my church pulled off a very successful Saints Peg Doll Swap! It’s been months in the making, lots of organizing, painting, and crafting with a total of 15 moms participating. Using the ideas and simple instructions from Catholic Icing, most of us met together at a home to chat and exchange peg dolls. I had a blast getting to meet new moms, helping to organize it, and catching up with friends! I really hope to do another one soon. 

Depending upon how many events we have coming up in the Mom’s Ministry at church, perhaps around Christmas. I am hoping that if we organize another one, I can spend a bit more prep time coming up with things like coloring sheets of those particular saints for the kids at the swap meet and having some quotes and prayers to send home with the moms. Maybe a little swag bag of sorts! Being a few weeks out from labor, I feel like I did about as much as I could for the meet this time without completely neglecting my other duties and family. As it was, finishing up RCIA, joining the leadership team in the Mother’s Ministry, and organizing the swap was a bit ambitious. Within one week, I attended two leadership meetings (one was for my specific committee and one was for all of the committees together), attended the end of the year RCIA celebration, and helped to host the swap. I practically took daniel to work daily and got really good at keeping the toddler awake in the car. It’s going to be a wonderful year though, and I’m really excited to be helping the church in this way!

Every mom picked up 15 unpainted dolls, chose the Saint they wanted to paint, and assembly-line style painted them. We spent two months with them (although I think most of us painted them last minute. I know of several of us who were varnishing the dolls at ten pm the night before the exchange). When we came together, we had 15 saints to swap to be able to take home a collection.

The cast of Saints!

I painted Saint Paul the Apostle. They were finished two days before the swap when daniel took Eliot to the splash park so that I could work in peace without the theme song to Daniel Tiger stuck in my head. 

I hardly had time to snap photos after the swap before the toddler happily claimed the set and he has been lining them up sweetly in different places around the house. I love the one of Mary so much (how beautifully detailed she is) and it has already proven quite useful as a visual aid! We talk about Jesus and Mary a lot, and we have crucifixes in practically every room, so Eliot really gets it when we say our goodnight Jesus and Mary prayer, at least about Jesus. But ever since we gave him the Mary peg, he has actually been saying “Mary” and seems to have a better grasp on the Mother of Jesus thing. 

If you were on the fence about peg doll swaps, don’t be! It was a blast and everyone should do it if they enjoy crafting!

Snapshots of life in May, 2017

Eliot giving baby sister some love. And being possessive over her.

I got treated to a pedicure for the first time in about seven years!

He thinks making faces is a really fun game these days.

He also got to have his first ice cream cone on his own at a birthday party! He loved it.

He loves playing in water. He doesn’t like sitting in it as much so a water table is right up his alley. I never even knew those things existed!

This is pretty much what motherhood is like right now. Lots of cleaning up and organizing and remembering that it’s the small things we do out of love that make up this job.

Texas heat, five weeks out from labor, chasing an exuberant toddler, and busy schedules! Such a full life.

A Chapter in the Life (Ch. 26)

Good Reading

When I’m hurting, draw me closer – Better Than Eden

Why I pulled my daughters out of ballet – Carrots for Michaelmas – this is so good. Daniel and I feel so strongly about this sort of thing! I do want to put my daughter in ballet one day, but I only want to see her given a classic, timeless, healthy education of the ART.

Life Lately

Pregnancy, rants induced by my neighbor’s dog ownership (hello barking dog at 2 am) and other situations, gardening, cooking, mother’s ministry, transverse baby kicks, park days, trying to keep up with a toddler while in the 3rd trimester, trying to sing lullabies without a voice, baking bread, endless toddler sleep regressions, adorable cuddles with said toddler etc…

I’ve been trying to find the energy and time to work on my own projects after chores and daily routine get done, but I am not having an easy time of it. I don’t know if it is the combination of more messes to clean from an older kid and more guidance at a more advanced age or that feeling you get where you just don’t want to bend over in the third trimester to pick things up (which is as necessary as breathing in motherhood) but it’s just not happening. Oh well. 

Wildflowers like these are all over our area and Eliot loves to talk about them!

Daniel and I celebrated our “ENGAGEMENT anniversary” in April and it was best to be at the place of our engagement on the day mark! Lots of opportunity for lovely reflections. Plus, the church is just beautiful.

This kid and his Gryffindor hat…never mind that it’s 80 degrees out. He insists!

I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing the beauty of a peacefully sleeping child.

Humanity has gone to the dogs

You can pretend all that you want that a dog or a cat is a child or a human, but basically biology tells us a different story. 
This is the sentiment that I have been feeling for years. This is a huge part of the death in our culture. Speaking emotionally, for a moment, this makes me angrier than many things do, because it affects so many facets of our society. It’s not pro-life by any means, it’s sickening, and it’s vain. Better people than I have written on the subject, and better people have made better arguments. But I just want to get out some of my own feelings on the subject… as a person who has been silent for years about this, apparently, huge debate. Consider this my disclaimer that I need to vent it out. 

We, as a culture, are racing at breakneck speed toward giving animals voices, rights in the courtroom, and even their own legal representation. To do such means that we actually consider that these animals HAVE a voice. I’m all for animal rights where cruelty is concerned. But personifying an animal, which is a still considered property, as something we need to consider the feelings of, as though it were a human child isn’t right. Giving animals the same rights as human beings in a world where human beings can’t even decide to give other human beings rights (consider the unborn child), is sick. How can a culture so easily dismiss the value and dignity of human life and idolize and elevate the life of a cat or dog?

Our world is full of people who become “fur baby” advocates but never once advocate for the life of an unborn child! And before it is said that both can be done, I must say that I disagree. I think a huge reason that we have such rampant disregard for human life and unborn babies is because we’ve blurred the lines so much about humanity due to this rising “fur baby” culture. 

Whenever I scroll a clothing website and come across t-shirts that say something like, “I like dogs better than people,” or “blessed fur baby mom,” I feel simultaneously disgusted and full of rage. These sentiments on the rise aren’t fake. People actually act and feel this way! 

The more advanced we become in the world…the more machines can do, the more we get away from nature, the less we know about humanity. We aren’t machines. Neither are we dogs. We don’t have cows in our backyard (most of us anyway) that we use for milk. We don’t slaughter a pig when we are hungry and want bacon. We don’t know the place of animals anymore and the average joe doesn’t have to collaborate with an animal, personally, to receive the bounty that most of us partake in. We can run to the store to pick up milk, meat, and eggs, never thinking of the origin of the product. We don’t have to respect animal life in the care-giving way that we were instructed to do at the very beginning. We don’t know that a dog is an animal we are meant to care for and collaborate with, we instead have put it on this pedestal we then worship. Don’t even get me started on cats… the practice of the ancient Egyptians has become much too real in our culture in this very day and age. 

Because of this break from nature (we don’t experience these animals, other than house pets, on the daily) we have become this body of people who don’t even know the different between man and animal. 

We are also full of empty nesters, divorcees, and control freaks in this culture who have no trust in God to care for their needs. The empty nester is so afraid of loneliness and living for a brief moment in the quiet of their spirit that they take matters into their own hands and fill their parenting hole with a “fur baby.” The divorcee hurts for a bond which was supposed to be shared in marriage and they, too, take matters into their own hands, forming a bond so idolatrous and unhealthy that it changes the nature of pet companionship. 

“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth. Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!” – Ecclesiastes 1:2

We choke our heart with weeds and vines of distraction and chaos from the real problems. We were told not to harden our hearts, but we do through this infatuation of fur babies. We don’t know the widows and orphans. We don’t see the unborn child. We don’t give dignity to the homeless and poor. We, instead, prize the stray dog, spend time out of day catching it and caring for it, advocating for it. We give it rights. We let it sleep in our home when we would never do so with a poor man on the street. We patiently wait while it is rehoused “in a loving home,” and we ignore the real needs of our world. 

Gross is the heart of this people. They will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them. Matthew 13:15

We have no trust in God’s goodness and mercy and kindness, so we ignore his offers and buy a puppy. Speaking as someone who desperately wants a snuggly pet right now, I feel qualified to say that shoving a puppy in that problem isn’t going to fix it or satisfy you. This is why we are waiting and discerning the right time to add some chaos to the mix of our family in the form of a pet, and not allowing my “need to nurture” or lack of patience (for this baby to get here) to dictate our moves. Sure, I’m impatient. Sure, there is an ache that wants to snuggle something cute and helpless and good. But that’s a right kind of ache. And I trust that it is what I need to feel right now, and not squash it out with a puppy. Maybe it will make those sleepless nights with a newborn easier to endure. Maybe I need to feel these little pangs so that I appreciate my own blessings more and stop searching for pleasure. This life isn’t about pleasure and what feels good. That’s vanity and meaningless. 

I think I’ve probably ranted it out enough for one night, but let me just end by saying, pets aren’t people. Animals aren’t humans. A reading of genesis might help us understand their roles and our roles better. And please, just hear this: a dog (or cat) is not a baby. If you want to take on a cause and do something good, join the pro life movement, work in service of protecting human life, and throw some freaking cat food out on the ground for the stray cats if you must. Stop buying doggie strollers and gourmet dog food served in crystal bowls and start feeding the hungry and caring for the poor.