Sunday, July 8, 2018

Everyday Abundant



Hello Dear Readers,

This will be my last post at The Heart's Overflow. I have been blogging under this name for four years and have loved being able to share my heart with you here. I will still continue to blog, but not at this site. 

Names are important, and this one just doesn't seem to fit anymore. I have been feeling the creative itch to create a new site, with a new name that better reflects the tone of my writing. So I hope you will come and join me at Everyday Abundant


You can find all of the archives from The Heart's Overflow at the new site. And if you have been receiving these posts in your email inbox you can sign up to receive future posts at the new site as well. Just look on the side bar to sign up.

Thanks! I look forward to sharing more with you soon!

Anna


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gestures of Romance You Won't Find at a Royal Wedding

Because of the inconveniently early hours my offspring keep I was awake in time to watch the Royal Wedding as it aired live this past Saturday. Only I forgot that it was happening, so I didn't see it. By the time I remembered to tune in the nuptials were complete and the new Duke and Duchess were negotiating a sixteen foot train into a horse-drawn carriage. I spent a few minutes watching the live coverage of the two "love birds" parading through the throngs of well-wishers before caving to the demands of my children for some Peppa Pig. (Also British, so still fitting for the day.)

But before I clicked over to Peppa I was struck by a few pieces of commentary offered by the news anchors. That this was a "fairy tale come to life." That you could "see the love in their faces." And, what a "true gesture of romance" it was that Prince Harry actually handpicked some of the flowers in his beloved's bouquet.

I love a good royal wedding. I loved William and Kate's, and loved this one as well. I definitely checked in with the Instagram account of the Royal Family throughout the day. I loved the fashions and formalities of the occasion. I loved seeing my feeds fill up with everyone's wedding pictures in honor of the occasion, and even posted a couple pictures from my own wedding.


After all, we should be celebrating marriage.

My only concern is, if we hold up a royal wedding as the standard of true love and romance, we're likely to end up disappointed when our own middle-class, Midwestern marriages seem to pale in romantic comparison.

After all, I don't know that meeting at a bakery counts as a "fairy tale come to life." And if you were to drop in at our house on a given day I'm not sure you would see the same looks of smitten admiration on my husband's and my faces as Harry and Megan were wearing on their wedding day. And I don't mean to throw anyone under the bus, but it's been a while since I've been given flowers, much less flowers hand picked from a castle garden.

Does that mean the romance in our marriage is dead? No! Far from it! But it has taken on a different appearance over the last 9 years. I don't require the same gallant displays of affection that characterized our dating, engaged, and newlywed years. My husband has found other ways of showing me that he loves me and cares about me. Theses things probably seem boring to the outsider, but to me they are a sign that I am deeply known and loved.

Every night my husband packs Johnny's lunch for school the next day and gets the coffee ready in the coffee maker. He happily does these things because he knows that after a long day of preparing three meals, doing multiple loads of dishes, and repeatedly wiping counters and sweeping the floor, I just can't be in the kitchen for one more minute. And it means the world to me.

We quickly realized after having kids that one of the truest gestures of romance we could make to each other is letting the other sleep in in the morning. In the past we would take turns on the weekends getting up with the kids. But throughout this pregnancy Alex has gotten up with them nearly every morning, allowing me to get a couple extra hours of much needed sleep.

We're just as happy to have some ice cream at home after our kids go to bed as we would be to get dressed up and go out on a fancy date.

Remember the coffee that Alex prepares and programs every night? Every morning he brings a cup of it upstairs for me before I'm out of bed and we have a time of morning prayer together.

Deciding to turn off the TV and just sit and talk. Taking turns changing diapers and fielding tantrums. Texting each other during the day just to check in. Telling me I look beautiful when I know I look like a hot mess. These are gestures of romance that don't require a horse drawn carriage.

All this doesn't mean we shouldn't make time to go out together, or that there's no need to ever give a gift, or write a special note. But it does mean that at the end of a day that was by all appearances perfectly mundane, we know that we've got something really good going here. It's these hundreds of little "true gestures of romance" that show that we are in this for the long haul.

It's easy to be in love when life is idyllic. But what about when it's not? What about when life is monotonous, when work hours are long, when kids are difficult, when appliances are breaking down? What about when crisis strikes, health problems, job transitions, financial difficulties? All marriages will go through these things, but I would argue that's when the real "true gestures of romance" get to shine.

I hope that some day Megan gets the stomach flu and that Prince Harry can hold her hair back for her while she vomits into the toilet. That's a "true gesture of romance" that she will never forget.

Monday, April 23, 2018

My Maternity Must-Haves

Disclaimer: all Amazon links are affiliate. That means if you follow the link and
make a purchase, I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. 

27 weeks of pregnancy down, 13 weeks to go. So basically an eternity. I really don't like being pregnant. Please don't misinterpret that statement. I'm wildly excited about this baby, I just wish someone would knock me out for 9 months and then I would wake up with a baby in my arms. But I guess that approach to pregnancy wouldn't really work for the rest of my family. So while there is no avoiding 9 months of sickness, fatigue, pain, heartburn, and crazy hormones, at least there are some things that can help make those 9 months more tolerable. Here of some of my favorite maternity items this time around.

1. This Black Pencil Skirt is super comfortable and looks super put together. Now that we've finally made it to warmer weather you can bet I will be wearing it nearly every day with a t-shirt.

2. Epsom Salts. I love these all the time, and I especially love them while pregnant. This pregnancy I've had some restless leg syndrome, which, if you've never had it, is So Annoying!! It's like the top half of my body wants to sleep and the bottom half of my body wants to run laps around the house. An epsom salts bath at the end of the day paired with a magnesium supplement has worked wonders for my sleep.

3. Maternity/Nursing shirt that covers my tush. Maternity jeans are so not my jam this time around. It's leggings (which I will get to in a moment) all day every day, and so long shirts are essential.

4. Pregnancy Pillow. Alex got me this pillow while I was pregnant with Trixie.  It' takes up half of the bed, but it makes sleeping with a giant tum so much more comfortable. I highly recommend it.

5. Maternity Spanx. For underneath dresses and skirts, because everyone can use a little help, right?

6. The best lip balm ever. I get intensely dry lips while during winter and while pregnant, so being  pregnant during the winter basically means I have two strips of sandpaper on my face. I first got this lip balm in an Ipsy bag. I love it so much I've restocked on Amazon twice so far.

7. Special Occasion Dress. Because there's usually at least one special occasion during a pregnancy. I wore this dress to a wedding we went to in New York this winter. It was so flattering, I loved wearing it. Just don't forget the maternity Spanx!



8. Belly Oil. I am so past the point of preventing stretch marks, which is the reason many people use belly oil. For me, it's all about comfort. Oil works so much better than lotion when it comes to soothing dry, itchy skin. And if I can prevent a few new stretch marks from popping up, that's ok too!

9. Good Maternity Leggings. Like I already mention, I just can't with the maternity jeans. So until it's warm enough to wear dresses everyday, you will find me in leggings. I've been on the hunt for a good pair of leggings that are thick, not see through at all, go over the belly, and look somewhat presentable. These are by far the best I've found. I've worn them almost everyday since January. I am wearing them as I type this blog post.

That's all for now friends! I hope this helps any fellow preggos out there. Tune in next time for my top pregnancy food cravings!

Just kidding.

I think.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

the hospital tour

You never realize how deep the desire to be known and understood is until your find yourself with a group of people who know and understand absolutely nothing about about you.

A 2 year-old Johnny walking by the entrance to the NICU where he spent his first of life.

That was me this past weekend as I went to tour the hospital where baby number 3 will most likely be born this summer. For a variety of different reasons it won't work out for me to deliver at either of the hospitals where my other two children were born. So, I spent my Saturday afternoon with a group a strangers walking through hospital wings and peering into delivery rooms.  

As we waited for the tour to start I felt on edge, not because I'm uneasy about delivering this third baby, but because I didn't want the people around me to think that this is my first baby. "No, no" I wanted to say, "I've done this before. I have two kids already, they're at home with my husband. I'm married. See my ring? It's nap time so they all stayed home. But since this is my third it's not super important for my husband to come along. We know what we're doing."

The tour began, and each step along the way brought up memories and experiences that reminded me of all the profound ways becoming a mother has changed me. And it bothered me that no one else knew these things about me. At each turn I felt compelled to blurt out something personal about myself.

We entered a spacious room with a giant free standing tub. Water birth. My daughter was born in the water and it was a wonderful experience. My main objective in attending the hospital tour was to scope out the water birth accommodations. As I listened attentively to everything the tour guide was saying about water births, I noticed some other members of our group eyeing the tub suspiciously, others glazing over as the information was being presented to them. I wanted to shout out to them, "it's not weird, this is not a joke. I did this and it was amazing!"


The tour guide talked about what kinds of things you might do if your labor goes on a while and you're at the hospital for more than just a day or two. 

"That was me with my first" I wanted to say. "I was in labor with him for 50 hours. And yes, it was terrible." 

Next she covered the infant screening that takes place in the hospital. She spent several minutes explaining the hearing test, telling us not to worry if our baby fails the hearing test. "Many babies fail that first test because they still have amniotic fluid in their ears. It can take several days to drain out. You'll just repeat the test with your pediatrician and everything will be fine."

"Unless your baby is one of the less than 1% of kids born with hearing loss in the US, like my son. Then he or she will have to have more comprehensive testing done and be fitting with hearings aids as soon as possible. And then you'll have regular audiology appointments to monitor their hearing, and you'll want to find a good speech therapist, and you may want to consider learning sign language too....."

The tour ended with a walk by the entrance to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which shares a floor with Labor and Delivery, and which is the very same NICU my son was transferred to when he was one day old. 

It's been almost 5 years since my baby was taken to the NICU, but of all the sorrows in my life that one feels freshest and stings the hardest. 

The tour guide talked calmly about the close proximity of  Labor and Delivery to the NICU, and if in the unlikely event that your baby will need to go there, it is very easy to come visit him or her. 

"But you have no idea what it's like to hobble down these hallways with fresh stitches in your body and legs still unsteady from the trauma of delivery"

She explained the layout of the private NICU rooms and mentioned the fold out couch available to parents who want to stay with their babies after they themselves have been discharged.

"Sure, it's a private room. But nothing feels more public than carrying your pads and peri-bottle to the unit's shared bathrooms every time you need to need to relieve yourself."

Hopefully you never need to go inside the NICU, she said, but it's nice to know it's there if you do.

"But if you do, it's ok to be upset, it's ok to cry and to feel like your world as falling apart, because it's really really hard. It might be the worst thing you ever go through. And you might not ever get over it. And that's ok too." 


But I didn't say any of those things. I just blinked quickly at the floor. Then we headed back to the lobby where the tour began, without anyone ever knowing all those things I had gone through, with them probably assuming I was a first time parent, just like everyone else.

And that's when I realized I was doing the very thing I didn't want done to me - making assumptions.

Since the start of the hospital tour I had been making assumptions about every other person in the group - first time parent, inexperienced, naive, uninformed, too natural, not natural enough - even though I knew nothing about them, or their experiences. 

And how could I?  We can't see experiences, we can only learn about them through increased intimacy over time. 

It's ok that I didn't share my life's story with my hospital tour group. And it was probably best for my ego that I didn't. But the experience was a good reminder to me that you can't possibly begin to scratch the surface of a person at first glance. I could no more know what scars and memories those other people brought with them to the hospital that day than they could know mine. We are, each of us, incredibly complex, that is a part of the beauty of humanity. Each person I encounter deserves not my judgement, but the dignity of my compassion and understanding. Who knows what I would find out about them if I could take the time to scratch the surface.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Life and Death. Lent and Easter.

Alex's dad died on November 10th of last year.

On November 11th I took a pregnancy test.

It was positive.

Walking into our bedroom while it was still dark, flicking on the lamp, and showing Alex that positive pregnancy test - the day after his dad died - was a little less than God parting the clouds and bending down to look us straight in the eyes and say, "yes there is death, but it's not the end. I also bring life."

We were not "trying" for this baby. Not like with the other two, where we tried for months in one case and years in the other. But we are open to life, and that means you accept it when it comes, whether it's a good time or not. By worldly standards this was not a great time to be having another baby. We already have two young kids who still have all the needs of young kids, plus the unique needs of a kid with hearing loss and other chronic health problems. Alex was still in school, about to graduate with the student dept he had amassed over the last couple of years, and as of that time no job lined up to pay it off.

But in one very important way it was the perfect time for a new baby.

I believe it is no coincidence that while we were grieving the first big family loss that either of us had experienced, we got our first surprise baby. It was as though I were hearing it for the first time - God alone is the author of life and death. Sometimes we're able to trick ourselves into thinking we're in control, but really, none of this is up to us. And when it seems like we are surrounded by death, He gives signs of life, a small foretaste of the Everlasting Life that He offers us.


It's now four months later. We are in the middle of Lent. I normally love the season of Lent, but not this year. I've had enough of sorrows. It's cold, it's dark, my body is in varying but constant levels of pain from carrying this child. Extreme exhaustion, the unrelenting demands of parenting and work, and a winter that never seems to end leave me feeling a little bit dead inside. I look out my window and see the decay of last year's garden poking out from under the snow in my backyard. I long for signs of life.

Then I feel the kick against my ribs. I see a patch of grass where the snow is slowly receding. I look at my calendar and see that Easter is only two weeks away.

Signs of life. Reminders that He is as faithful as the changing of seasons.

Spring after winter. Easter after Lent. Life after death.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Winter Offerings

Hygge. Pretty sure I'm pronouncing it wrong but doing it right. The snow it falling thickly outside. I'm wrapped up in a wool sweater and cozy blanket, sipping some hot tea, and when I'm done on the computer I will be turning to my book and knitting basket.


I admire people who get outside for real winter activities, you know, ice skating, sledding, broom ball, but this is about as active as my winter gets. It's cozy, my feet stay dry, why mess with something that works? 

I have a few winter offerings for you my gentle readers. The first two are for everyone, and the second two are just for local ladies I'm afraid. 

First, a playlist to aid and inspire the spirit of Hygge. During the roughest weeks of my morning sickness I was so out of it I wasn't even listening to music. A couple of weeks ago I started putting some playlists on again while I was hanging out with the kids or working in the kitchen. I was so pleasantly surprised by how having good music on in the background lifted the mood! Just because it's dark and dreary outside doesn't mean it has to be inside!



Second, did you know that Lent starts in less than 5 weeks? I know, it doesn't seem possible. We literally just took our Christmas tree down. But it's coming up, and I have found that when I plan ahead for my liturgical seasons, even a little bit, I enjoy them so much more. For Advent this was as simple as knowing where my Advent wreath and candles were before the first Sunday of Advent, and having my BIS Advent journal in my possession and ready to go. For lent I plan to have a couple charitable organizations picked out to practice some alms giving, and of course, I will have my Blessed is She Lenten She Who Believed Journal to be my daily companion.


I am thrilled that Laura Kelly Fanucci is back writing the Lenten journal. During this Lent we will be looking at different women in scripture and what they can teach us about prayer. I am excited to learn some new things, especially about some of the lesser known characters. Be sure to get yours early before they sell out! Or, grab the whole 2018 Lent Bundle


There are all sorts of other new products available in the Blessed is She Shop, I'm not going to mention them all, but I will mention The Catholic Journaling Bible. It's been a long time coming and has been wildly popular. I have one and it is beautiful. I know it is something I will use for the rest of my life. For everything else just go take a look. And if you kindly use any of the links in this post I will get a small kick back as an affiliate. Thanks! 



Also, have you heard that there is going to be a Blessed is Retreat in the Twin Cities? Are you jumping up and down with excitement? The Wild Retreat is coming to St. Paul on August 11. Tickets are on sale now! I have never been to a Blessed is She retreat, so I am really looking forward to finally experiencing one for myself. 

Finally, for those who are local to the Twin Cities, I will be teaching a knitting class on February 24th through a very cool project that my friend Cara is spearheading. It's called The Dorothy Exchange, and it's a women's skillshare. This is the third class that she has organized. The first two were great successes and I'm so excited to be able to be involved in this one and pass on my love for knitting. For details on where and how to register you can check out Cara's post on the class. Spaces are limited, so register soon if you'd like a spot! I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 in 12 Photos


J A N U A R Y 


Looking back through the blog it seems that we were sick a lot in January, and that I was doing hygge before it was an Instagram sensation. I'm so proud of myself. Also, I can't believe Trixie was ever that small. She still stands on that stool between the sinks, only now her head towers way above that shelf and she can easily reach all of the faucets. 


F E B R U A R Y 


February is when winter seems most endless and we begin to drive each other crazy. Being cooped up with babies all winter is rough. I wrote this very sweet post reminding myself how great it can be with those babies.  P.s. I made those, the babies, and the sweaters. 

M A R C H


Johnny had spring break. I think it snowed every day that week. So we made our way to the conservatory to pretend that it was spring. I also helped put on the CWBN Midwest Conference. It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun. 

A P R I L


I finished a sweater that I had been working on all winter, Alex and I finally figured out a prayer routine that works for us, Lent, Easter, and the daily grind of motherhood.

M A Y


Johnny turned four,  He finished his first full year at his school for deaf and hard of hearing kids. We were thrilled with the progress he made in his speech during that year. And I closed my piano studio after teaching for ten years.

J U N E


We did a big rearranging of rooms in our house, since I was no longer using one of our main level rooms as a teaching studio. We spent as much time outside as possible, and, not surprisingly, I did some more reflecting on motherhood. 

J U L Y


Lots of family time and outside time. This summer marked the 10 year anniversary of when Alex and I started dating. I marked the occasion by writing about how we met

A U G U S T 


We took our annual trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with friends. I turned 31 and did a lot of gardening. The only blogging I managed was this giant photo update. 

S E P T E M B E R


I made a lot of hats, Alex started his final rotation of PA school, and Johnny started school again, this year going five full days a week. The beginning of a new school year is so chaotic and exhausting, so I was doing some thinking about self-care. 

O C T O B E R 


Trixie turned two! I am realizing now, much to my shame, that I never did a birthday post for her! Nevertheless, she had a wonderful birthday, she got a baby doll who has come with her everywhere everyday since then. Trixie continues to be a our sweet and joyful girl. 

N O V E M B E R


November was hard and joyful month in our home. Alex's dad passed away after battling cancer. There was much sadness and grief, but we also had a lot of special time with Alex's family. We also found out I was pregnant with baby no. 3! I'm so grateful for God's timing with this baby. 

D E C E M B E R


Alex graduated from PA school, passed his boards, accepted a job, and then got the break we have been dreaming about for the last 2.5 years. The timing of this break couldn't have been better, as I was struck down with morning sickness. Alex has been doing everything around the house and for the kids, and taking extra good care of me. My morning sickness started to ease up a few days before Christmas, allowing me to enjoy this beautiful season even more. 

Happy New Year to you all! And thanks to Bobbi for hosting my favorite link up! 
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