With a Grateful Heart

On Friday, the boys and I drove down to the Valley for a long weekend with my parents. The main purpose of our trip was to participate in the Mega Memorial 5K in Harlingen, a memorial run for a dear friend and former training partner, Meg Jorn. For a woman who dedicated most of her life to distance running, it was a touching tribute to a life tragically cut short. Family, friends, former competitors, and training partners all rallied together for a 5K race in her honor.

Race participants released purple balloons in her honor and her best friend, Dayna, read a beautiful poem and released twenty-six monarch butterflies into the clear blue sky. Moving speeches by both her husband and Dayna brought all of us to tears as we celebrated the incredible life she lived and how she had such a profound impact on her family, friends, and community.

Meg lived a “mega” life. She pushed herself professionally and athletically inspiring so many along the way. Her spirit will live on for years to come, but it does not make her loss any easier to bear. A quote on her Facebook page truly sheds light on the kind of life Meg tackled with gusto and strength, “Life is precious…..let us try not to waste it!”

Meg lived by an exceptional mantra. Life truly is an incredibly precious gift. The threads that make up the tapestry of our lives give us so much to be grateful for. In life, we never know how much time we have with the ones we love. Living each day to the fullest surrounded by the ones we love is such an amazing blessing.

Coming home this weekend allowed me the opportunity to bid adieu to a woman who taught me so much as we shared the road and miles and miles of words of encouragement, laughter, and joy sharing something we both loved- the pursuit of athleticism achieved through training and achieving PR’s. It also reminded me how important the little things truly are. Happiness is seeing your grandparents light up when they see their great-grandsons, catching up with your godmother and clinking glasses as we sip on prosecco, and witnessing the powerful love a big brother shares with his baby brother through a simple kiss and a hug.

My mother made an incredible Thanksgiving spread for us while we were home this weekend. Savory, comforting, and truly delectable, she put all of her love into the preparation and presentation. My mom is my rock, and a woman I derive so much strength and inspiration from. Who I am today is a tribute to the amazing things she has done for me all of my life to help me grow. I am truly grateful for the love, kindness, and grace she encourages me with daily, and I don’t know where I would be without her unconditional love and friendship.

Thanksgiving offers us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the profound blessings God has graced us with. Our health, happiness, family, friends, and all of the other infinitely beautiful blessings we call our own. Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with delicious food and family and friends around your table. Even after tomorrow, let us remember that we have the opportunity to start each and every day with a grateful heart!

The Road to Motherhood

The road to motherhood is not always a linear path. Sometimes a road less travelled leads us towards something our heart could have never expected. My journey started three and a half years ago when I crossed paths with a handsome widower’s online dating profile. I soon found myself falling in love with two incredibly special and unique individuals. One was a strong, motivated father who put his son’s needs ahead of his and opened his heart to the possibilities a relationship with me could bring. The other was a precocious toddler with beautiful eyes as blue as the sky and a smile that melted my heart every time his lips parted in joy. I could have never imagined my role as a mother would first start as a stepmother of a three year old, but I also can’t envision my life being any different because having Liam in my life has been an absolute blessing.

Two years into motherhood, I found out I was pregnant with Atticus. It was a rollercoaster of hormones, bouts of morning sickness, and a waistline that grew a little more every single day. As a little life grew inside of me, my heart swelled with love as I envisioned what this baby would be like when he made his grand entrance later that year. My life forever changed again when my doctor placed a precious 5 pound 15 ounce newborn in my arms for the very first time.

This last year has challenged me as a wife and a mother. It’s inspired me to be more mindful of the little things that make our lives so rich and meaningful. It has been eye opening, raw, real, beautiful, and unscripted. Life as a mother requires patience, a big heart, compassion, and humor. How else do you get through the messy parts of it like spit up, throw up, exploding diapers, and boogers for days?

Armed with all of this, I circle back to how this blog post started describing how the road to motherhood is not always a linear path. November is National Adoption Month, a month that signifies an important month for many children who find love, support, and happiness with their forever families. This is a month that will soon hold a very special place in this Mama Bear’s heart too as we will welcome a daughter into our lives sometime this year. This is a journey that started with a conversation over a year ago and developed into a more serious dialogue between Sean and I about eight months ago. Then this summer we started attending parenting classes and started the mountain of paperwork required to start this journey.

As public as I have been about my chronicles as a Mama Bear. This next step will be incredibly private. Because we are working with an agency contracted through Child Protective Services, until our adoption is consummated, we cannot post anything on social media about the expansion of our family. Our home study will be completed in the next few weeks and then we will cleared to begin considering little girls who would be an ideal fit for our family. I pray for my daughter every single day. I don’t know her yet but I can’t wait to meet her. I pray that her foster parents are meeting her needs daily and are making her feel safe and loved. Her past will undoubtedly require unconditional love, unwavering patience, and unfailing support to help her overcome and thrive. I know it will challenge me in ways I’ve never expected, but it will also only add to the rawness, realness, and beauty of my story as a mother.

The path to motherhood is rarely a perfectly straight line from Point A to Point B. My path thus far has shaped me into the mother I am today. A mother who loves fiercely, gives it her all every single day, and forgives herself when she falls short sometimes. I am far from perfect, but my heart is open and ready for this next chapter as a Mama Bear.

 

An Open Letter to my Baby Bear

Sweet Atticus,

It’s hard to believe that a year ago today, the doctor placed your tiny body in my arms. I remember vividly holding you close in those first few moments together and whispering in your ear how much I loved you. My world forever changed that day in ways I could have never imagined. Just thinking about all 5 pounds 15 ounces of you makes my eyes well up with tears. You, Baby Bear, are the greatest thing I’ve ever accomplished, and I will worry about you for the rest of my days on this earth.

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So much happened in your first year of life for both of us. I successfully mastered nursing and still find great joy in being able to spend quality time with you every day rocking you in the rocking chair my own mother once rocked and nursed me in. It truly is amazing how things come full circle! Your little hands and feet have grown and so has your length and weight. You’re now just shy of 20 pounds, and my chiseled arms are from lifting and carrying you around with me all through the house.

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There were nights where I wondered if I’d ever sleep through the night again. You would wake up every two to three hours to nurse, and in a zombie like state I would shuffle through the darkness to comfort. But a year later, I can say with gratitude that you my littlest, sleep through the night and for the most part so do I. I find myself waking from time to time if you cough or stir just to check on you as I peer into the monitor. But most nights, that’s just my mommy worry getting the best of me.

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Blank stares gave way to first smiles and baby coos of happiness. Tummy time, something you absolutely loathed initially, turned into playtime before I knew it. Rolling over, sitting up, pulling up, and now trying to walk came on so quickly. Leaving you alone for even a split second isn’t possible anymore. You’re in to everything and always require an incredibly watchful eye.

Exploding diapers, runny noses, teething, and drooling all made their mark on numerous occasions. Some of these moments were laughable. Others were downright disgusting and smelly. But even still, I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for a second.

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You bring so much light to my life- watching you crawl with great curiosity across the hardwood floor or pulling up onto your tippy toes to reach for something you need to know more about. Your smile and belly laugh melt my heart in unimaginable ways. I live for those moments to see you so happy in your father’s arms or underneath your brother’s hug.

The Lord blessed me infinitely when he brought you into my life. I look forward to all of the little and big things your future holds. I ask for continued patience, guidance, and love as I make every effort each and every day to be the absolute best Mama Bear for you and your big brother, Liam.

Happy first birthday, my sweet Atticus. “I will love you forever, love you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby bear you’ll be!”

Cuddles are the Best Medicine

The tubal ear procedure went off without a hitch. When they took him to the OR, my poor baby was in tears about having to part ways with me. I have to admit that I fought back my own tears as I walked back to the waiting room without him. Thankfully the procedure was incredibly quick and my sweet boy was back in my arms in less than twenty minutes.

The anesthesia proved to be the most difficult part of the surgical procedure as it made my little baby bear rather lethargic and groggy for a significant part of the day. Otherwise I cannot say enough positive things about Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Their staff held by hand through the entire process. They were kind, genuine, and truly experts in their field.

Atticus required extra tender loving care, which I was more than happy to indulge him with. Hugs, kisses, and cuddles undoubtedly proved to be more effective than any other medicine today. By the time dinner rolled around, I decided to err on the side of simplicity. With Sean out of town, I didn’t need to worry about an elaborate meal, so I gathered some of the boy’s favorite foods and voila, dinner was served. For Liam, leftover pizza, cherry tomatoes, sliced mango, and a side of Cheetos and Doritos made for a delicious dinner. Atticus enjoyed peanut butter toast, fresh mango, and mashed potatoes. My dinner included a few samples off of their plates as I prepared dinner. My favorite part was the ice cream sandwich rolled in rainbow sprinkles that I split with Liam.

With the boys tucked in for the night, I’m capitalizing on a husbandless evening of chick flicks coupled with a glass of white wine. With all of the worry and stress I carried around today, this low key evening is exactly what I need.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the family and friends who were kind enough to send me reassuring text messages before his surgery and the follow up calls to see how Atticus was doing. Additionally, faith, prayer, and mindfulness truly played an instrumental role in my well-being today. With Friday on the horizon, I’m looking forward to a wonderful weekend with my family. Wishing you and yours a wonderful one too!

Telling a Mother not to Worry…

Worry is a synonymous term associated with motherhood. From the moment you first realize your pregnant, worry sets in and only continues to grow as your belly does. It starts with the little things like, “Has my baby kicked enough today?” or “Oh no! I forgot to order a decaf latte.”

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The minute your child is placed in your arms immediately after delivery, your heart swells with love and you find yourself fully immersed in a state of worry. Worry comes in all shapes and sizes. Small worries, big worries, and everything in between. Sometimes it’s slight and it passes quickly. Other times it’s enormous, debilitating worry that can be all consuming.

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At almost one year of life, Mama Bear worry continues to follow me around like an obedient dog. My biggest worry right now centers around Atticus’s tubal ear procedure tomorrow. The procedure requires general anesthesia, which is enough to send this Mama Bear into full blown worry wart mode. Although I’ve been advised that it’s a relatively quick procedure, I will be separated from him for at least an hour. An hour that will undoubtedly feel like the longest hour of my life. It will give me plenty of time to pace, fixate, and stress out. Positive thoughts and prayer will undoubtedly be my saving grace.

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Tomorrow is only one thread in the long string of worries that I will continue to carry with me on this road called motherhood. Through it all, faith and love will continue to propel me forward. I will wear my worry, angst, stress, and concern for both of my beautiful boys like a badge of honor. The adage, “telling a mother not to worry about her child is like telling water not to be wet,” appropriately sums up the worry we carry as mothers for the children we love with our whole heart.

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A Mother’s Love

One of the hardest parts of motherhood is a sick baby. You so desperately wish you could take their discomfort away, and oftentimes feel helpless as you try to calm them in their fussy, feverish, and uncomfortable state.

Since Wednesday evening, Atticus has been under the weather. Enduring his fourth ear infection since late May. This ear infection came less than two weeks since his last and brought with it a high fever that he hasn’t kicked despite intermittent doses of infant Tylenol and Motrin.

Yesterday we visited the ENT and are scheduled for ear tubes. In consulting my inner circle, I’ve heard great things about the relief they provide but it still doesn’t ease my mommy angst. As if one doctor’s visit wasn’t enough, the ENT sent us back to our pediatrician for an antibiotic shot, which put Atticus in full meltdown mode and it took everything in me to hold back my own tears.

When your child is in pain, you feel their pain, sorrow, and anguish too. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave that would magically make the fever, discomfort, and infection disappear in a poof of smoke. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Instead I hold him tight, soothe him, and give him all of my love. I savor his neediness because I know he won’t always let me be this close.

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Baby Bear, I hate seeing you so puny and unhappy. I pray this passes quickly and hope that the kisses, hugs, and cuddles make all the difference in the world. I can only imagine how difficult it feels to feel so much but be unable to articulate those feelings. I’ll be here to love you through it all because that’s what Mama Bears do best!

A Helping Heart

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This morning the sky was a perfect blue and the sun was shining radiantly. After so many days of darkness and despair for so many in the Houston area, it was a welcome change.

As we sat together over breakfast, the local news stations continued to show footage of the devastation in our area. Liam and I sat in silence taking it all in. In that moment, teaching him about the importance of helping others in times of need struck a chord with me. I told him that we were so incredibly fortunate to have weathered the storm without losing anything. I explained to him that it was our time to help and give back to those who did not fare as well.

We spent the better part of the morning gathering linens, toys, diapers, water, children’s books, crayons, art supplies, coloring books, baby clothes, and toys for the rescue shelter at St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church. A colleague and friend of mine was headed there after lunch with her son to volunteer and offered to deliver our donations.

Liam was a real sport parting with some of his prized possessions. He didn’t complain once and beamed with pride about being able to help others. For this Mama Bear, it made my heart absolutely melt with happiness and pride.

More than 46% of Texas’s population was affected by Hurricane Harvey. Rebuilding our coastal regions and the greater Houston area will require the volunteer and donation efforts of many. Although Liam is only five, you’re never too young to learn the value and importance of having a helping heart. Big or small every little bit helps. #Texasstrong