For the Single Moms

Maybe it’s because my mom was one or maybe it’s because I know how much work it takes to be a mom with help from a husband – let alone by yourself. Whatever it is, my heart goes out to the single mommas.

I remember when my mom was single… We lived in a one bedroom duplex, and at five years old I was thrilled to share a bed with my mom. I would have had no idea it was because she couldn’t afford a place with two bedrooms.

I remember my mom making me scrambled eggs to eat. And now I wonder if I was eating eggs, because they’re cheap or because it was easy and she was tired from working all day. The memories I have I see in a different light now that I’m older and also a mom.

I remember grocery shopping and not being allowed to buy squeeze-its. You know, those sugary-sweet, brightly-colored drinks in squeezable plastic bottles with faces on them. I’m a 90s kid! They were too expensive to pack in my lunches. But I remember how excited I was when my mom bought them as a special treat for me!

I remember when it was my turn to bring in snack at preschool and she made Jello-jigglers – Jello cut out in the shapes of letters. If it were me, I’d be buying the cheapest packaged snack that required no time or effort. How much more did it require for her to go the extra mile without a partner to help?

I remember the pool and the patio we shared with the Brazilian family next door, and how I’d eat their delicious black beans and rice at a kids table with their little girl. I remember playing in that pool out back for too many hours and ending up in the emergency room with an asthma attack late that night. Who was there to support my mom while she was scared for her child who couldn’t breathe? Who did she turn to and ask, “Should we go to the ER?”

I remember when I stole two crayons from preschool because I thought they were the prettiest colors, and I didn’t have them at home. I stuck them in my pocket and forgot about them. Until my mom pulled me aside one day and asked about those crayons. They’d gone through the washer, ruining our clothes including a white pant suit of my mom’s and some favorite piece of my own clothing. Oh how I cried. And oh how my mom probably cried …or fumed. I don’t know, but I know she couldn’t say to anyone, “You take care of this kid. I’m too upset.”

Who was there to help my single mom? Girlfriends? Our church? We didn’t live near family.

Who do you know that’s a single mom? Are we all just passing these women by not recognizing the extraordinary amount of work it takes to do what they do. every. single. day? At the very least, those of us with husbands should be thanking the good lord above that we aren’t doing this parenting thing on our own.

This Mother’s Day I encourage you to reach out to a single mom. Maybe you can offer babysitting or grocery money or kids clothes. Or maybe you can just grab coffee – because all moms need friends.

Livi’s Birth Story

My sweet Livi. You are lying in the bed next to me as I begin typing this the morning after your birth. Your brother and sister are enamored with you. Your dad and I are in love with you. Our family feels complete…

Saturday morning the contractions I’d been having over the last 2 weeks started getting closer and closer together until they were 5 minutes apart. They were short 30-45 second contractions, but I called Deborah, our midwife, and she said, “We’re not gonna play. I’m coming.” We both expected a fast birth, and it was… eventually.

The house became a flurry of birth preparations – shower curtains on the bed topped with old sheets, your dad filling the tub halfway so it could be topped off quickly when I’d want in. The grandmas were folding laundry and putting away clean dishes. Aunt Zoe and her friend were playing with Gia and Asher and baking your birthday cupcakes.

And then the contractions stopped.

I’d been locked in our bathroom with worship music laboring by myself, but the amount of people and activity that I knew existed on the other side of the door was messing with me. I felt like everyone was in the other room just waiting for me to have a baby. It’s also likely your position stopped labor. You had favored keeping your back on my right side through the last weeks of pregnancy, and I think that’s what probably kept me from starting labor even though I’d been having legit contractions for over two weeks. 

At noon my chiropractor stopped by our house to pick up her daughter (Zoe’s friend) and she was able to adjust me (as best she could on a bed). We had hoped that would help you change your position. Then your dad and I left the house to walk around the neighborhood, and I had a few more contractions. Though it didn’t make labor start again, it was super peaceful to be out walking just the two of us. The weather was gorgeous – sunshine, blue skies, and a breeze. We walked holding hands. It’s one of my favorite memories of the day.

When we got back to the house I was hungry, so I had a sandwich for lunch. It was the weirdest thing to come out to the kitchen and eat lunch with everyone when I was supposed to be in labor. With previous births once labor started, it didn’t stop. It was ready, go! Hello, active labor!

After lunch we decided I would try acupuncture. A week earlier I had gone, and it gave me strong contractions so I was hopeful this would get things going again. Deborah left for a bit and said to call her when we were back at the house. If contractions started again we could try the side-lying release to get you to change position. She checked me at this point and said I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. Well, I would hope so after weeks of contractions!

After we got home from acupuncture your dad and I laid down on the bed to rest, and Deborah came back to the house. Contractions were coming, but at about 20 minutes apart. Aye… So we tried the side-lying release which is 5 contractions with me on my side and my top leg hanging off the bed while Deborah pushed down on my hip. Then 5 contractions on the other side. Then 5 more contractions on my hands and knees. It took about an hour or longer to get through the first 5 contractions because they were so far apart, but when I switched to my other side the contractions came one right after another. Then I moved to my hands and knees and contractions started getting stronger.

I was leaning on the big exercise/birth ball and moving to get through the contractions. Deborah would massage or push against my low back. Then between contractions she’d use the rebozo (a long piece of fabric) under my belly to try to jiggle you into a different position. According to Deborah active labor started between 7 and 7:30 PM. You were born at 10:12 PM. We were right. You came fast… once you decided to come :)

I had one contraction on the birth ball that was super intense, and I asked for the herbal transition stuff. I don’t know what it is, but I bought it because I know what transition is like, and it about puts me over the edge. Deborah was like “why don’t we wait and see what the next contraction is like.” I’m sure she was thinking there’s no way this girl is in transition already. Except, I was. I felt the nausea, and then I got the chills, and I was like, “Give me the stuff.”

I have no idea if it worked. I did get up off the ball, because that was not working for me. I went back to my trusty “lean on the counter for support and move my hips and body all over the place” to get through contractions. But I ended up dropping all the way down to the floor and then I was on my hands and knees and, oh my word, it was so intense. And that was when I cussed for the first time during child birth haha (If you don’t know the backstory read this post)

With each child, labor has gotten shorter but way more intense. My body is going from 0 to 10 in a shorter period of time, so it makes sense. It’s just not fun. At this point the tub gets filled all the way with hot water, and I ask your dad to get me undressed and in my swim suit top. I literally cannot even stand up to undress myself. He’s like, “The tub is ready. Get in.” and I’m like, “Dude I can’t get there. You gotta help me out here.” So he puts my top on me while I am on hands and knees and then gets me the 20 feet from the bathroom to the inflatable tub in our bedroom.

When I get in the hot water the contractions seem to space out a bit for a much needed rest. In between contractions I actually fall asleep/doze off. I’ve never understood how a woman could fall asleep in labor, but I have now experienced it, and it is wonderful. I get cold washcloths for my neck and face, because I’m sweating from the heat of the water. But that hot water is so necessary. It makes the contractions slightly more bearable.

The contractions pick up the pace and gain intensity once more. Your dad stays by my side. Through every contraction he leans over me and pushes on my back. As I feel one coming I motion with with my hands for him to stand up, and he knows it’s time. In between contractions he gives me sips of water as I lean on the edge of the tub or wipes my face and arms with a cold cloth. He speaks to me. He tells me I’m beautiful. That man… he’s a good one.

Through this time I am just waiting to feel the urge to push. I keep thinking there will be relief when I get to push. Maybe I don’t accurately remember my past birth experiences, but there was definitely not relief when it came time to push! I knew it was close – I could just start to feel the urge to bear down as the contractions would finish and then… I was pushing. Deborah called the grandmas in to take pictures and record video.

I felt so out of control. This seemed like the roughest of the births when it came to pushing. Again, probably, because it was so fast – I think about 5 minutes. As I pushed I felt the pop of my water breaking and within the next contraction or two they saw your head. As I pushed through a contraction and your head was coming out, the contraction ended with your head partially out, but not fully, and I was like, “What the heck!” I did little breaths and kept myself from pushing to prevent tearing and used my hand to support myself and help stretch around you. This was all in a matter of seconds and felt so crazy but looking back at the video, it actually wasn’t as crazy as it felt.

The next contraction came fast, and I pushed your head out. Your dad was behind me supporting your head as I began pushing the rest of your body out. It seemed to take forever. Everyone says you came out with arms flailing and legs kicking. I raised my leg as I finished pushing you out and your dad brought you through the water to the front of me. I cradled you to my chest and leaned back against the tub, so thankful you were here and that the pushing was over!

Some of the first words I heard as you made your entrance into this world was Deborah saying, “You’ve got yourself a fighter!” I wonder about the significance of those first words…

Gia and Asher had gone to bed earlier in the evening, but were awake when you were born and came in to meet you. Your Aunt Zoe said she knew you were born because all of the loud noises finally stopped (ha!) I got out of the tub to birth the placenta and nurse you on our bed. Dad cut your cord, and then held you while I took a shower.

I loved having you at home. After showering I put on a nightgown and got into my own bed where they weighed and measured you and did all the newborn stuff. The kids were right there on the bed with me and loving every minute of it. Your brother and sister were overjoyed to meet you and touch you and kiss you…

You’ve been born into a family that loves you very much Livi Rae. You have a place in our family and in this world that only you can uniquely fill. I can’t wait to see all that God has for you, but for now I am content in knowing you are what God has for me. And I promise to do my very best as your momma.

I love you, sweet girl.

 

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A Father’s Day Letter To My Husband

You’re in bed next to me with our little mini-me-man curled into your side as we both type words onto a screen. I am proud of you. For so many reasons. For stuff like building a business, growing a business, and selling a business. For starting a podcast and sticking with it for a full year even as we both wondered, “Will we ever make money again?” For taking risks I couldn’t fathom – and I would certainly never take on my own if not for you saying, “I have an idea…” For taking the biggest risk of all: choosing to be a dad; raising little humans with the hope we don’t screw them up somehow.

I think it’s the biggest risk one can take. Being a dad. You go into it with no experience and almost as little knowledge on the subject. I’ve seen you in some rough times – difficult seasons. But you had wisdom to reach out to men who have been there – men who traveled the path before you. Thank you.

This season though… you’ve found the sweet spot. You are relishing and treasuring. You are enjoying dad-life to its fullest. And I? I am relishing and treasuring. The shared smiles and laughter when our kids do something precious. The nightly wrestling matches on the living room floor. The soft, sweet dad-voice reserved only for your little girl.

You are an amazing daddy, Joshua. And I am proud of your many accomplishments, but they are nothing compared to the love you have for your children. Your achievements only enhance the love you have for your kids, because I know the motivation behind them is providing for your family and leaving behind a legacy.

Most of all, thank you for modeling to our children the true nature of a man. For being the type of husband I want our son to be and our daughter to marry. Thank you for showing our children how a dad loves his kids and how a husband cherishes his wife. And last, but certainly not least, thank you for bringing fun into our family. Because what is life if we aren’t enjoying it?

Happy Father’s Day.

josh and kids

 

My Little Girl’s 4th Birthday Tea Party

My parties keep getting smaller and smaller. If I spend less on food to feed a crowd I feel justified spending more on the fun extras!

This was G’s first “friends party” instead of a family & friends party. I decided family would make a way to celebrate with her, but I wanted to do something fun that was just for her and her little friends. Introducing a “garden” tea party.

I use the term “garden” loosely.

It was outside.

In our front yard.

Which shamefully needs a gardeners assistance.

 

Five Favorites

I’m sharing five of my favorites with you this week!

  1. Banana Republic has 40% off everything in store and online right now including clearance (Code: BRTAKE40). I bought a lot, but it’s Gia’s fault. She kept telling me everything looked good when I tried it on! Also, I had to leave the dressing room twice for her to go to the bathroom.
  2. The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. You heard me reference it in Strategy 8: Your Pressures. This book brought me to a life-changing moment when I realized I can’t balance everything. I have to let something go, which is what led to this post.
  3. My new Starbucks tumbler for iced coffee. It’s summatime! It stayed cold for so much longer than those throw away cups!
  4. Going right along with the coffee theme: the Best Mom Ever mug my kids gave me for Mother’s Day. I’m using it all the time. If you follow me on Instagram you saw my post and how cute, little Asher melted my heart when he ran to me with the gift.
  5. Not a thing, but a moment. When G and I had tea together this week during Asher’s nap time. We each had our teacups at the kitchen table, and we talked about where she wants to go to pre-k. It was like two grownups having a conversation over coffee… except she’s four, and I’m still not sure if she understands there won’t be face painting at preschool.

Fervent Strategy 9: Your Hurts [Online Small Group]

I recorded this video a couple months ago and in it I say, “Ask the Lord to show you if you are harboring unforgiveness toward someone.” Sure enough he showed me! I didn’t even realize it. The bitterness was from so long ago – a peer who honestly was just mean, but had really made me question,”Am I enough?” I could see that I brought that question into other relationships. All because of a stupid hurt from years ago. Once God brought the person to mind I recognized that every time I had heard their name I’d make a face or maybe a smug remark. Lightbulb moment for Lisa.

What’s crazy is that I had been feeling like something was off. Like I couldn’t quite connect with the Holy Spirit. Like I would pray but there was a barrier that muffled the communication – both ways. Once the Lord showed me I was holding onto this hurt, I gladly exclaimed, “I forgive them!” I will NOT allow this bitterness to mess with my relationship with the Lord! It is NOT worth it!

The barrier that was there is gone. I am so thankful for a God who loves us enough to show us where we need to change. He doesn’t leave us floundering but desires for us to live a life of freedom. Thank God for His freedom!

Why I Can’t Sell the Rocking Chair

Dangit! That thing is falling apart and used and worn. I’ve wanted to carry it out on trash day more than once. The community yard sale was the perfect excuse to get rid of it. I was all set to sell it and then…

I tried to rock my baby (read: 2 year old – who will soon be a grown man, graduating college, and getting married) to sleep in a different chair, and it just wasn’t the same. It was bumpy and not glidey. Pokey and not cushy. All I could think of was how I’d never again rock in the chair that I’d rocked both my babies to sleep in for the last 4 years.

The chair where I’ve nursed my babies and snuggled them close. The chair where I’ve read Bubbles, Bubbles and Mr. Brown Can Moo. The chair where I’ve spent hours wishing children would fall asleep so I could lay them in their crib and so many more hours wishing I could hold them forever, willing them to never grow up.

It’s the same chair I’ve sat in time after time with an aching back or sore feet from going all day long. I’d finally take a moment to stop, to rock my little one, and that’s when I’d hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you how many times the Lord’s whispered to me in that chair. Mostly because it was the only time I was still and quiet; not distracted by the to-do list or the TV.

And oh how many prayers have gone up from that chair! Prayers for protection over my family. Prayers of blessing on my children. Prayers for their future spouses and even for the parents that are raising their future spouses! Prayers for my husband. Prayers for guidance. Prayers that call upon the Lord to act – to do what he has promised!

So much of my life – the parts that are rich with meaning – has happened in that chair. So many precious moments. Heaven help me, but I don’t think I can get rid of that ugly, beautiful, falling-apart, old chair.

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

I was running in the dark and squinting to see anything. The dim flashlight provided little help beyond the small circle it illuminated. In the dream everything was gray and hazy – mere shadows. I couldn’t see where I was going. I didn’t know what was beyond the next step. Suddenly, I realized I could turn my flashlight brighter with just the flip of a switch. Everything was instantly illuminated. I could see the trees and houses around me. I knew where I was going! Continue Reading

Italy Trip: Day 7 – Family Legacies

We started our day by attending mass at the smaller of the two churches in Gallo. We entered late and took a seat behind the only other four people attending. All older ladies.

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Michael, Josh, and I all wanted to go. Even though we knew we’d be unable to understand it, we wanted to sit in the place where perhaps Joseph Muccio attended as a young man. I’m learning so much family history through this trip and I can’t possibly share all the details, but here’s the basics…

Joseph Muccio was born in Gallo Matese and is the grandfather (or Puppo) of Michael Muccio, which makes him Josh’s great-grandfather and our children’s great-great-grandfather. He left Italy when he was just 17 years old to come to America where he settled in Pennsylvania and married his wife, who was also Italian.

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As I sat in the little church I don’t think God could’ve spoken to me more clearly if I had understood the words the priest was saying. Continue Reading