Sunday, June 21, 2015

the love of a father and our Father

The love of a father - a mother - a parent, has a whole new depth and meaning to me now that our son Peter is here. More than anything else I have a deeper understanding of the love God has for us as His beloved children. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on that lately. It's an amazing kind of love that fills your heart as a parent. What leaves me speechless is that I know His love is bigger and deeper and stronger and wider than I will ever be capable of in my humanness. It's a love I cannot even begin to fathom. What a gift that He loves us in such a way.

God has abundantly blessed me with a daddy who has shown me an endless amount of love and support my whole life long.

He has given me a father-in-law who welcomed me as if I were his own from the start.

And He has given me an amazing husband who is an absolutely incredible dad to our sweet boy. Truly.

Dads get the short end of the stick appreciation-wise, I think. People are constantly assuming Michael has it easy in comparison to me as Peter's mom, but it's just not true. He has played just as important a role in our son's life. I look forward to celebrating Michael and the gift he is to our family today. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. May God bless each of you and all those men who long to be dads, those who miss their dads, those who miss their children, and those who are our spiritual fathers. 

Praying we all might know the deep and everlasting love of our Father today and every day...

{From the archives: My all-time most-read post from last Father's Day.}

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


The number three seems to be showing up a lot of places in my life lately. The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity had me thinking about our triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In March (the third month) we became a family of three. Peter is three months old now (how did that happen?), and today Michael and I celebrate three years of marriage. Three years as husband and wife. Three years of God's grace poured upon us in this beautiful sacrament.
The Gospel reading at our wedding Mass was from John:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
       just as I have kept my Father's commandments
       and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
       and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you."

{John 15:9-12}

The way He loves is the way we are called to love. And Jesus gives us this commandment that we may receive His joy - not the joy of this world, but an eternal joy. A joy like no other.

Michael, our joy became a little more complete in this third year as husband and wife. I pray we will continue to grow in joy for the rest of our lives together. Today I renew my commitment to always strive to love you as God loved His Son, and as Jesus loves us. Thank you for loving me even when I fail to do that, and for being so quick to forgive. I am forever grateful you chose me to be your bride.

Happy Anniversary. I love you more than I can say.
  P.S. Just for fun: our two year anniversary post // our love story

Friday, May 8, 2015

7 Quick Takes {no. 39}
On Moms & Motherhood...and a giveaway winner!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Moms, grandmas, great-grandmas, godmothers, spiritual mothers - there are many forms motherhood can take. While it is my first Mother's Day with our sweet Peter, my first Mother's Day was last year when my heart was aching for our Thomas Gianna. Know that whether your babies are in your arms or in heaven, whether you are blessed with many children or longing for them, you are in my thoughts and prayers this Mother's Day. May God bless each and every one of you. Sweet Momma Mary, pray for us.
{Madonna of the Streets}
Motherhood continues to be quite the adventure. These are sacred days, of that I am certain. Peter is smiling so much more lately, and there is just nothing else quite like it. I can't wait to hear his laugh! His sleep patterns still have us puzzled, but we just take each day (and night) as it comes. It's all very much worth it, of course. My heart has never known such a love. I am so thankful for the gift of being Peter's mom.
{11 days old}

My parents and my in-laws came to visit us just after Peter was born. It was a very special time for me. Words cannot express what it was like to see my own mother holding my son. What a beautiful gift from God. I am so, so grateful to have a mother who has shown me His love my whole life long.
Happy Mother's Day, Momma.

Last year I hosted a Marian linkup, and I wanted to share the link with you here. There are some great reads for this Mother's Day weekend, and in this month of May.

I have to share a couple of great motherhood posts I've read lately:

I so admire the writing of Laura at Mothering Spirit. She wrote a gorgeous piece on motherhood in the first year of a baby's life. It captures so many of my current experiences as a new mom. It's a wonderful read. Don't miss it.

If you're looking for some more momma sweetness, read this letter my friend Kathryn wrote to her one-year-old daughter, Gianna. It's just beautiful. And then you simply must check out Gianna's first birthday party, because it's one of the most fabulous I've ever seen. Kathryn knows how to celebrate!

If you're in need of a last minute Mother's Day gift, be sure to click on over to my etsy shop to check out my downloadable prints. One of them might make a lovely gift for someone you love. Just download, print, and frame (or don't!) for a perfect little piece that will bless and encourage.

Last but not least, the giveaway winner! Thanks so much to each of you lovely ladies who entered. The winner is...Vicki! Congratulations! Be sure to check your e-mail for your prize. 

Linking up my takes with Kelly - thanks for hosting us!

Wishing you a beautiful weekend...

Friday, May 1, 2015

7 Quick Takes {no. 38}
New Mom edition & a GIVEAWAY!

Well, friends, it's my first seven quick takes as a new momma. You can count on some updates, some pictures of my sweet boy, and a little giveaway of this print at the end.

Thank you so much for being here as I try to get back into the swing of blogging a bit more regularly. I really miss this community!

First of all: I am soooo far behind on all my blog reading. What are the best posts you've read lately? What have I missed from you? Fill me in!

In case you missed it, I shared Peter's birth story on the blog earlier this week. Though it admittedly took me several days and many nap times to finish, I really enjoyed writing it all out to commemorate this most momentous occasion in our lives.
For those of you who read about and are praying for our boy's ASD - thank you. We received good news at his checkup yesterday! The hole is now half the size it was at birth, and the doctor anticipates it may close completely on its own. Either way, he should be able to live a healthy life. So many answered prayers! Please join us in praising God for his goodness and in praying for his heart's complete healing. We appreciate it more than I can say.

Life as a mom hard to put into words. It's truly something that no one can prepare you to experience. All at once it is the hardest thing I've ever done and the most wonderful. Those first few weeks were brutal. Especially the sleep deprivation combined with postpartum hormones combined with the steep learning curve of first-time parenthood. YIKES. Eight weeks in I feel like things are finally starting to even out a little bit. The warm spring weather is a welcome change, too. I find it's always nice to get outside, even just for a bit.

I can hardly believe just how fast Peter is growing and changing. Case in point:
4 days old.

1 month old.

Just shy of 2 months old.

Ahh! It's already going by too quickly. My prayer is that I am able to be really present and savor every second. Goodness, do I love that boy.

Amidst all the craziness of life as a new mom, I did manage to put together a little celebration for the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Gianna Beretta Molla. You may have seen on instagram that we celebrated with an Italian dinner & dessert, which included bruschetta, spaghetti & meatballs, the best cannolis, and gelato. Yum! 

And speaking of liturgical celebrations - happy Easter! So glad the Easter season is still going strong so I can say that to you all without being completely belated. Peter's first Easter was a special day. We dressed him up in his Sunday best, and he slept like a little angel through the Easter Mass. 
Once we got home from Mass he was ready to eat (as pictured below), and also promptly had a blowout and spit up all over his Easter outfit. At least he waited for us to take some pictures!

Last, but certainly not least - a little Mother's Day giveaway for you!
I am giving away a "Blessed is she who believed" downloadable printable in the color of your choosing {available in pink, eggplant, crimson or black} from my etsy shop, {with joy calligraphy}. This 8x10" printable would make a lovely gift for the special mother(s) in your life {think: mom, grandma, mother-in-law, godmother, one for you, etc.!}. Download may be printed up to three times. This giveaway is open through the end of Thursday, May 7, 2015 and the winner will be announced and receive their prize on Friday, May 8, 2015. Good luck, dear readers!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up my takes with many more lovely bloggers! Thanks for hosting us, Kelly.

And thanks again for being here. Wishing you a beautiful May weekend!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When We Welcomed You to the World
{Peter's Birth Story}

My darling Peter,

You are quietly napping in your crib as I type this. Every day I am in awe of your little life, and what a miraculous gift you are. I want to write down the story of how you came into this world. I hope that one day, when you are grown up (though Momma doesn't want to think about that just yet), you will read this and smile.
March 1st was a cold, and very snowy Sunday. That evening your Dad & I had just watched the Downton Abbey season finale. (How kind of you to let us watch!) I went to bed for the night while Daddy stayed up to read, both of us completely unaware of how our life was about to change forever. A little after midnight I woke up with a start, rather surprised. I had a (very wet) feeling that my water had broken. Daddy called our doctor who told us to head in to the hospital.

Seeing as it was over two weeks before your due date (March 18), we were not exactly prepared! I had started packing a hospital bag, but by no means was it finished. Thankfully I had made a list of the other things I wanted to bring. I started trying to gather the things on the list, and to my surprise, was able to remain relatively calm. Your Daddy on the other hand, was just so excited he couldn't think clearly! We worked as a team to get out the door as quickly as possible.

Dad drove us safely through the snow to the hospital in Manhattan. We texted your grandparents, aunts, and uncle to let them know you were on your way. When we arrived, we headed straight for the sixth floor, where the Labor & Delivery Unit was located. Once we settled into a room, they checked me and I was only one centimeter dilated - I had a long way to go! They gave Momma a medicine called pitocin to move things along, and it worked. Very well. I waited several hours to get an epidural, as I was told if I got it too soon it could slow down the labor, and I didn't want that! You better believe I won't wait so long for an epidural if there is a next time. Momma was trying to be brave and tough, but when the nurse told her some patients requested their epidural after one unit of pitocin and that I had already had eighteen units, I no longer felt the need to wait. Oh, what sweet & welcome relief! For me, and for your daddy, who was an absolute champion of support for me throughout the entire labor and delivery process. He is the best - you know that, right?

Before you were born, Momma and Daddy had prayed for all the nurses and doctors we would encounter at the hospital. God answered our prayers one hundredfold. As soon as my main nurse introduced herself I knew that God had sent her. Her name was Catherine. My confirmation saint is St. Catherine of Alexandria. I just don't believe that was coincidence. Don't you love when God does that sort of thing?

After the epidural, the nurses encouraged me to try to save up my energy for pushing, as it could take a few hours they warned. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the experience. After laboring most of the day, our doctor arrived to help deliver you. When he went to examine me, your head was already so low that he could see it! Once a contraction came, I started pushing, and only one more contraction later, at 4:09 p.m. on March 2, 2015, you were in my arms! I couldn't believe it! Oh, the tears of joy and relief I cried, sweet boy. Words can't express just how happy I was to meet you. Before long your Daddy got to hold you, too. What a precious, precious moment for us.
While you were still with us in the delivery room, you weren't able to let out very many strong cries. I never imagined I would actually desire to hear you scream and scream. A pediatric doctor came to look at you a couple times, but they said you would be okay before taking you to the nursery for a bath. Your Dad and I were missing you as soon as you were swept away. A little while later our nurse Catherine came back and told us some news we never wanted to hear: you had been admitted to the NICU. Momma cried again, this time tears of fear and sadness. I wanted so badly to have you back in my arms. A very kind doctor came to talk to us and took Daddy down to visit you, since I was still recovering. I was so relieved when he came back and told me you should be okay, but that they needed to keep an extra close eye on you.

As soon as I was able, I rode in a wheelchair to visit you in the NICU. What an emotional experience to see you there, my sweet boy. You were hooked up to so many cords and they were keeping you warm in a little incubator box. Oh, how I prayed for your well-being and healing. Our NICU journey was predicted to be 48 hours, but ended up being three days long. The second day you were there, a cardiologist found your ASD - atrial septal defect. No mother ever wants to hear that their precious baby has a hole in his heart, no matter how small. I cried again (I did a lot of crying for several weeks after your birth!), but the doctors told us not to worry (impossible), and that they would check your heart again in two months. We have your checkup tomorrow. We have been praying for Jesus to heal your heart every day. My greatest comfort is that I know He loves you even more than your Daddy and I do, which is more than I even knew was possible.

When we finally got to bring you home from the hospital, I experienced so many different feelings. I felt scared of being in charge of you after you had been monitored so closely by the medical team in the NICU. I felt utterly exhausted from a complete lack of sleep, what with our middle-of-the-night and all-through-the-day feeding sessions. My emotions were absolutely all over the place with my postpartum hormones. But above all, I was happy, and I was grateful. I'll never forget standing outside our apartment wearing flip flops in the snow (because yes, there was another blizzard, and my feet were so swollen I couldn't get my feet in any other shoes), and I just wept. I thanked God over and over for keeping you safe and for allowing us the gift of bringing you home with us. Our family was finally home. The three of us together, just as we belonged.
You had quite an eventful entrance into this world, baby. In the eight short weeks you've been out here with us, you have brought us - and so many others - more joy than we ever could have imagined. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for your precious life.
We love you, Peter Matthew. So very much.
Momma & Daddy

Monday, March 16, 2015

Welcome to the World

Please join Michael and I in welcoming our sweet miracle...
Peter Matthew
born Monday, March 2, 2015
4:09 p.m.
7 lbs. 8 oz.
21 inches long

Our lives have been turned upside down over the past couple weeks as our little man came into the world over two weeks early. I guess he just couldn't wait to get here. :)

We are totally smitten with our little man. What a gift he is. Pure gift. Thank you, God.

More (hopefully) soon...

Friday, February 20, 2015

7QT {no. 37} baby showers, baby bumps & birthdays

I just looked back and my last 7 Quick Takes post was written on December 5, 2014 - clearly it has been too long! So here I am! :)

In case you missed it, earlier this week I shared about the baby shower my family threw for us in Ohio. At the time, I promised to share about our baby shower in Michigan. So, without further ado...

My wonderful in-laws threw us a safari animal-themed baby shower, with the star animal being the giraffe (one of my favorites).

This crib (our baby's actual crib! yay!) was filled with blankets, toys, clothes & more.

All the food fit right in with the party's theme. My favorites were probably the adorable safari snake subway sandwich...

...and the zebra snacks. Brownies, chocolate-covered pretzel thins, chocolate covered strawberries & grapes -- all drizzled with vanilla almond bark. Yes, please! 

One of my favorite features of the party was that at each table there were books (about giraffes, naturally) where guests could leave a little note for our sweet boy. Such a fun idea!
We are so thankful to have so much love in our lives. Our baby is being born into two families who already adore him! What a blessing.

And here's a link to the post about our other baby shower, in case you'd like to take a peek - it's super cute, too!
{Baby, it's cold outside!}
While we are catching up on all I haven't blogged about, let's see what else I have missed...

Ah, yes - my sweet husband's birthday, which was almost a month ago! I always love celebrating him.

And tomorrow is his church birthday - the anniversary of his Baptism! So much to celebrate!

Of course, there was Valentine's Day. I made an "I love you" pie instead of my traditional "I love you" cake this year - pictured on the left here.
The picture on the right is our breakfast from Mardi Gras on Tuesday! Yes, I said breakfast. (May I confess: I felt so wild & crazy for serving/allowing this! I guess it doesn't take much for me...ha!)

And I'd be remiss not to include a baby bump picture! (Especially after my last one on the blog was at 27 weeks!) You may have already seen these over on the 'gram. But if not, here are 35 & 36 weeks:

Linking up with Kelly and many more lovely bloggers!

I hope you all are having a very blessed start to your Lent.
Have a beautiful weekend...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Baby, it's cold outside! {a baby shower}

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I know - it's been a while. Again. This poor little blog just has not stood a chance of thriving against my every day life as of late. Alas. It is what it is! The longer I'm away from sharing in this space, the more I feel like I don't know where to begin or what to say, which keeps me from writing anything at all. So! I'm jumping in with both feet today to share about a special evening we had in December - one I don't want to forget.
When Michael & I were visiting my family in Ohio over the holidays, we were blessed to have a gorgeous baby shower thrown for us. It was a couple's baby shower, which I really liked. The dad should get to celebrate, too! And we're back in town so rarely that it was a great chance for both of us to see our family and friends who attended.

The theme of the shower was Baby, It's Cold Outside. I know - so. stinking. cute. Right?? The coordinating party invitations were from minted:
{Baby, it's cold outside INVITATION} via
Guests arrived to a luminary lit driveway...
were instructed to leave their coats on our screened in porch...
...and come inside for the festivities! 

Every detail of the party was so very thoughtful. There was a place for guests to share their advice for us...
 ...and a place for them to guess when our sweet boy will arrive!
And then, of course, there was the food. And it was delicious!

Is this "chilly bar" not the cutest?!

The sweet treats were also amazing. There were cookies and milk, champagne bubble candies, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla taffy...
...but my favorites were probably the scrumptious cake pops {I had never had one before! YUM!}.
I also loved the hot cocoa bar - so fun! {Hot cocoa and whipped cream not pictured!}
All the decorations were beautiful, too. 
{art print by lindsay letters}
The heart put into the evening was so apparent.

Such a special night with dear family and friends to celebrate our baby boy. We are so grateful and feel so blessed! 

Also...did I mention he is due one month from tomorrow? (!!!!)

Whether it's cold outside where you are or not, I hope you're warm, cozy and well. 
Thank you for being here!

P.S. COMING SOON - pictures from a super cute shower my in-laws threw for us in Michigan!

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