24
Nov

Getting to know all about you...

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Love is defined by watching you eat.
Because you do it with your whole face.
Because it makes your feet dance.
Because it makes your mouth sing "mmm" with each new bite.

Love is defined by watching you smile and hearing your laugh.
Because it doesn't happen often.
Because you go from tears to laughing in a heartbeat.
Because you laugh when something is silly.

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Love is watching you be grumpy.
Because it is who you are.
Because you need time to trust.
Because you're unsure.

Love is defined by your touch.
Because you hug with your whole body.
Because you have a spot on my chest that belongs to just you.
Because you run to me with hope of being held.

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Love is defined by watching you with her.
Because you need each other.
Because you want to be just like her and do just like her and act just like her.
Because you both were made in love.

Love is defined through your tears.
Because it's how you communicate toddler frustration.
Because if I don't decide to love in these moments of torment, the loud pain will drive me away from love.
Because I understand frustration.

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Love is defined in watching you walk.
Because it makes you giddy.
Because you are so proud.
Because you worked and fought for that freedom.

Love is defined in you.
Because I wanted you.
Because I bled and battled for you.
Because I hurt for you and with you.
Because I define you as love.

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22
Nov

Five Minute Friday - Fly

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on fly.
Go.

There are moments when I sit and watch and listen to them, like a fly on the wall. Moments when I see them coloring together, or reading to each other, or playing a game. I chuckle at her rules, or smile at how he is starting to assert himself as a person too, with wants and demands. I melt when they hug, or kiss. And my favorite, when they are saying goodnight to one another. He in his messy, "night-night Anna" with a full hand waving, her with kisses being poured onto him and hugs that fill us with love. If I could keep them like this, in this time, in this moment of love, I would. I would give us anything to have them be ours forever.

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But, all of our moments with them, they are fleeting, they are slipping away and time is certainly flying.

Stop.

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17
Nov

Come away with me

Come away with me and enter this life of parenthood.
Come away with me and let go of those two 21 year old kids who had nothing but carefree days ahead of them.
Let go of dashing off to the movies,
and dinner dates,
and easy get aways,
and small apartments.
Come away with me and enter this new world of ours.
A world filled with sloppy kisses,
really messy faces,
and homes,
and rooms,
and cloths,
and a messy life.
Come away with me and enter a world with cries,
and whines,
and yelling,
and tantrums,
and time outs.
Come away with me and enter a world of first words,
and milestones,
and baby laughter,
and siblings,
and messy love.
Come away with me and let our love grow in a different way, a quiet way.
Come away with me and don't let us go,
hold on to us,
to our memories,
and our scars,
and our fights,
and our laughter.
Come away with me and watch our love, our hearts and our life grow.
Grow old with me
watch them grow up with me
watch our lives and hearts mature.
Come away with me and enter this world of parenthood with me, by my side.
Partners till the end.
Come away with me.

15
Nov

Five Minute Fridays - Tree

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on tree.

Go.

One of my least favorite books to read to my kids is The Giving Tree. Filled with reminders of leaving, letting go, sadness, lonesomeness, and having to move on but being rooted in the ground, paralyzed by the memories.

The Giving Tree

All she wanted was to keep him a little boy, climbing and swinging, having fun and needing to be with her too. But he grew, and loved others, and left. He took and took from her and in the end, left her a stump, with nothing left to give.

We all do this with our kids, of course we give until there is nothing left in us but a fear, a fear that makes me stay up nights, or wake up in a cold sweat, is that at the end of this journey with the two little faces we put on earth, I will look at my future, have nothing left in me, be filled with a sadness that leaves me a tired old stump.

But today, I have little ones. I still have years of little noses and toes and smiles. I still have climbers and kids that want to swing and be small. Kids that want to laugh and play and grow with me. Kids that reach for me, that call for me, that make me feel mother.

It's tomorrow that I worry and wonder. My job is to make you go, raise you to the point of independence, get you out there to do your thing, it's my entire job. But, what if I end up that tired, empty stump.

Stop

10
Nov

Brave

I saw the look on your face as you made your way over. Walking over to me and you know where you belong, how we fit just right and how the night will go. You take your spot in my arms, resting against my chest. All snuggled on our chair, wrapped completely in my arms, almost as if we were one, it's how we spend our Friday nights...and it's how the two of us got started, on that chair...

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On the screen, Brave is playing and a mom and daughter fight and push each other away, purposefully hurt one another and destroy their family unit. Their actions are harsh, their words are hateful, their eyes tell their story of years of anguish and frustration, with each other. And I hold you a little tighter. With each new scene you ask me what's happening now and as I explain how angry the daughter is and how she has to ride away from her family, away from her mom. I explain how mad the mom is and why she is crying, why she pushed her away and I hold you even tighter.

When our harsh moments are upon us, they are filled with two stubborn women, with strong minded spirit. Our fights include clenched hands, count downs, and both of us frustrated and ready to dig ourselves in even farther. Me trying to assert the fact that I'm your mother and you trying to assert the fact that you're a four year old person. They come with yelling and crying and at the worst times, silence. And all I want you to know is, I'm not giving up on you or on us. I am doing this for you, for your character, and, in the end, for your independence.

As the movie comes to an end, she holds her mom in her arms, tells her she realizes she was always there for her, realizes all she sacrificed for her and how much she loves her back. "You were always there mommy, don't leave me now." And I hold you a little tighter. They kiss like a mom and toddler kiss, sloppy and everywhere and I hold you even tighter.

That's when I ask you, do you think we'll fight like that Anna? When you get bigger, do you think we'll fight like that? And you whisper "no" with your arms around my neck and you kiss me on the cheek. Why, why do you think we won't fight? "Because I don't want to fight with you mommy". As the tears stream down my face, you hold me and ask "why are you crying mommy, what's wrong?" And all I can say, because I love you and you make me happy.

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This is our moment, one I will never forget. I tell you that you can write your own story. You determine your future, and you make your dreams a reality. I know you don't understand, I know you're far too young, but I have to keep driving the point home because there will come a day when it will click and my words will have meaning.

There will come a day when you are so happy and filled with so much love you too will cry. You will feel the weight of family, however you define it, and it will move you to uncontrollable tears. I want love to spill out of you, like it does today and like you have it spill out of me. I want your laugh to continue to take over your body and I want your tears of love to feel the weight of family.

And I whisper, I won't forget tonight.

8
Nov

Five minute Fridays - Truth

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on truth.

Go.

The truth is, I didn't know this was going to be my life. The truth is, if you asked the 20 something me, I would tell you this is the exact opposite of the life I had imagined. I dreamed of living in a city, owning a small apartment, dashing off to work, eating in remote places, living the single city girl life.

The truth is, he knew how much I wanted all of this. He brought out the truth in me and he told me that a life of single, isn't what I wanted and I needed to let go of my fears and find the truth.

The truth is, I knew I was going to marry him the day he played "Hey Girl" for me and told me it reminded him of us. He sang the words to me as if wishing I would let myself go and come with him.

The truth is, he was right. I have loved every moment of this life, every moment of him and them, even the awful times and there are awful times.

The truth is, it took me a few weeks to stop looking at you like a stranger Anna and fall madly in love with the little girl and little face we put on this earth. But, once I did, that love could crush all evil.

The truth is, I loved you Cole, the moment I knew you were with me and I will always love you that much.

The truth is, this is exactly what I wanted and he was right, I needed to let go and go with him.

Stop.

3
Nov

This is our journey Cole

First,
there was you and me
and our little Mia
made us three.
Then,we added Anna
as our number four
and since she
was such a good idea
we decided to add
Just. One. More.

Just like with Anna, I needed to get over myself and my resentment in order to go back and think of our story. Because just like Anna, our story isn't tragic, it isn't sad and it isn't the end of anything. Once again, things didn't go as planned and once again what I had envisioned didn't come to life. Because, like with all babies, you make your own way and you tell your own story. The one you want told...

My sweet little boy, our journey begins with a wish and hope...

that you would find us
that you would be healthy
that you would be calm and loving
that you would be ours
that you would make your way to this family
that you would make our little family complete

It all began on September 26, 2011. It was my 33rd birthday...typically a day that fills me with such sadness that I cry most of the day away. But on this day, I could focus on something else, on someone else. I was going to find out if you were with us and when I saw the two little lines this time, I knew what it meant...our family puzzle was about to be complete.

Like your sister, our connection began instantly and you let me in on a few little secrets of our life together. It was on this day that I could feel you telling me that our journey would have challenges. We would stumble together, and I knew I would mistake each little stumble as a fall...and as failure. You let me know that you were determined to be different than your sister, you were going to make your own path, your own trail, and find your own way. For starters, you let me know, mom, I'm a boy.

It begins with some ease and some familiar symptoms. You, like your big sister, were easy to be pregnant with. I didn't have any morning sickness, my fatigue made me sleep at night and therefore I had so much energy during the day, I was starving for food even before I took the test, my MS felt under control, you were so much more active during the day but you too would roll over and go to sleep at night, allowing the entire family to rest.

Your official due date was dad's birthday but since we knew we were going to have a scheduled surgery, we were able to plan for you to arrive because this time, it would all be decided beforehand, and we knew what would lie ahead.

We found out about you on my birthday, you were due on dad's birthday so we decided, I insisted to wait until Anna's birthday to confirm your whisper, that you would be a boy. The excitement started to build and then...

and then sweet Cole, our difficulties started and they started pretty quickly, just like you knew they would. Three months in, I got sick with a virus and was brought to urgent care. They were worried I was going to have to be admitted to the hospital because my fever was so high and my body ached all over. Days later, they finally figured out that I had coxsackie, and that's when our journey hit another stumble. The virus can cause heart failure in unborn babies and I became a "high risk pregnancy". I had to go to Albany Med for months and have your heart measured, and each time I walked into the high risk center, I tried to hold on to that hope, our wish. I tried to remember dad's words that this was just a precaution, that we would get to hold you and see you, this was all just a precaution. I tried to not break down and cry every time I had to explain why I was there. I tried not to tremble when I was forced to say "heart failure" and "we need to measure his heart on a regular basis". And on that screen, I got to see you over and over again for months...and my love for you was already immeasurable.

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Once that was behind us and the doctors said we were in the clear, we got to pick your birthday. Wednesday, May 30th 2012, I was scheduled to arrive at 6am and surgery was to start at 9am. We worked hard for a name. We knew you were going to be Cole but we worked and worked on your middle name. I had so many ideas, Cole Avery, Cole Greyson (this one was my favorite). But dad, he only liked one name, Cole Blake. Cole Blake Houser. We decided, I insisted to keep your name our litlte secret but we had Anna announce our news of expecting to our family. And then, on Thanksgiving weekend, to everyone else in our lives.

We prepped your room, we fought more about your name, and we took our weekly pictures.

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Week 26 Week 25 Week 37 the end

April 6, 2012, about two months before you were going to be born. We went out to breakfast for Anna's third birthday, took out a sealed envelope from my bag, and as the coffee was being poured into our cups, and Anna was coloring, I pulled out your picture, looked up with tears in my eyes and said to dad, it's a boy.

We arrived on your birthday and started working on your debut. All your dad felt was ready, excited and elated. I, well, as always, I felt a bit of a loss. I was saying goodbye to a wonderful chapter in my life. I was now about to share you with the world and our time together, just us two, was over.

By the time we headed to the O.R., the bitter, cold shaking had started and they were holding me down. I was cold right down to my bones and everyone was talking us through the procedure. I was reassured how different this surgery was going to be, how great I would feel, how my body wouldn't fail, how I would be awake, alert and the recovery would be a breeze. How I would feel like myself again in no time, this time, it would all be different.

As they started, the tears were streaming down my face, I was crying out of fear, out of loss, out of concern and out of happiness to finally see you. I watched for their facial expressions, for tones of voice, for your dad's warm and loving touch. And then, at 9:15am, I heard your amazing cry...you were here. As they announced your time and your almost 10 pounds of weight, I kept holding on to that hope and wish.

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We had another baby, another piece of our family puzzle. You were here, you were with us, you were glorious, and joy, and sadness, and pride and love. With you my sweet Cole, love was instant. I fell for you hard and fast and I couldn't keep my eyes off of you. Just like your sister, you were content, and warm and sleepy. During our stay, I would hear nurses argue over who got to change you because you were irresistible. You quickly slipped into hearts and were filled with our wishes and our hope.

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I remember how much love I felt for you, how stunned I was at not having you feel like a stranger. I knew you, I was so drawn to you, my love was real, it was us, we were together.

Dad, I remember his smile, his tears. I remember the way he held you and looked at you. His heart grew to twice its size that day and you could visibly see it.

You met her, and she too fell. in. love. It was agony for her to wait for you. Each and every week we would talk about you and what your arrival would mean for our family. She would ask so many questions about you, about my pregnancy, about what was happening to my body and when she finally laid eyes on you, her first words were "you're my best friend". She would make you gifts, pictures, draw for you, and run into our room to show you. She was your big sister and she loved everything there was about you.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012, we were ready to take you home and they came in to say you had lost too much weight, they were worried about you not thriving, your tongue was tied, they wanted to clip it before we left, they wanted me to come back to have you weighed again the next day, they set up an appointment with your doctor for two days after, it was clear, they were concerned.

As the days went by, I wasn't getting any better, I wasn't recovering, and days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. Tests were run, doctors were called, visits were made. They checked for everything, infections, organs being affected from surgery, something being left in me, more infections, something wrong with my incision, something wrong with my scar, something wrong with me internally. Finally, they were stumped. They had no clue why I couldn't move, or walk, or hold you, or feed you. It was all unknown. Each step, every movement, was filled with agonizing pain. I was in a constant fog, the pain was overwhelming and I was barely surviving. I was consumed by the discomfort and the inability to parent. The meds were awful, the pain was worse, my body was once again failing us, and it would take months before I came back.

During this time, we tried Cole. I went back to work after 2 1/2 weeks of being home. It felt amazing to be at work, clean from a fresh shower, concentrating on something bigger than my pain, focusing on more than just foggy meds. Being dressed, and showered, and productive, and alert. You came along and tried to work around and with me. We tried to find the joy in family and in togetherness. We tried to hold on to this incredible precious time of infancy because I knew I would blink and it would be over. We tried to get out of the house, we tried to rest, we tried and tried.

And so many times, we succeeded...

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Two months to be exact...eight weeks...that's how long it took for me to come back to us. And, in the end, it was an MS attack and my nerves weren't healing properly. ALL the promises, ALL the reassurances, everything was washed away and we stumbled again.
Our stumbles just kept coming
You continued not to thrive, and your weight was always a concern
When I finally felt better from surgery I was then told I had infections all over my body to fight
You weren't hitting milestones
I didn't make enough milk and you were hungry - starving
You got sick and were observed overnight for seizures
You missed more milestones
Your doctor said the words, let's keep monitoring his head growth, there may be a brain tumor
You hit 12 months and your frustrations grew and grew
You would spend most waking hours screaming, crying, angry, frustrated
You would push me away
You would drive me to the brink
You drove me away from love, from sanity, and away from the family
You continued to be frustrated
Your cries would get more intense
Your anger would only get worse
Days were forever long and at the same time, slipping away from us

But, we kept trying and we KEPT holding on to wonderful things...to the hope and the wish that had become you...
your first words were "hi there"
you say "hello Mia" first thing in the morning
you always look for Anna first
you smooch with your whole face
your hugs are warm and the definition of love
when you took your first steps, you were giddy
your smile is infectious
you look like grumpy cat most of the time and I love it
you whisper new words like they are the most well kept secrets
you are still brand new
you are so smart
you can visibly see when you are in love with someone
you are so determined
you have an incredible vocabulary
when you are happy, others are elated
there are times that you look at me with the most amazing love
you reach for us
you call for me, all day long
you love your family
you wake up so happy
you love your food with your whole body
you look like your dad
I learn from you

You are my son. You are my incredible boy and you are strong willed.
You are my son. You are stubborn, quick, and reckless.
You are my son. You are grumpy, determined, and untrusting.
You are my son. When you do trust, you are loving, warm, and affectionate.
You are my son. You love our puppy as much as I do.
You are my son. You will find your success and you are pride.
You are my son. You too love to sleep and you too wear your emotions on the outside of your body.
You are my son. You cannot hide how you feel, it's always written on your face.
You are my son. You completed our family and allowed our hearts to grow to twice their size.
You are my son. You are a reason to love, to believe in love, to believe in childhood, to believe in faith.
You are my son and I want to welcome you to this world.
You are my son and I know you will find your trail, you will build your success.
You are my son and you will not only figure it all out, you will teach us as you go.
You are my son and I bled for you, I fought for you, I got sick for you, I pull my hair out because of you, I cry because of you, I smile because of you, I wanted you, I love for you, I will always fight for you, I still want you.
You are my son. This is your story and this is our journey.

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1
Nov

Five Minute Fridays - Grace

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on Grace.

Go.

Grace, it's the definition of your name.
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It's one of the many, many things I have learned from you.
Because when your brother is hysterical, and Mia won't stop barking and getting under foot, and my 65 hour work week is driving me to tears, and my body is exhausted in a way I didn't think was possible, you are dancing and spinning in the middle of the cautious.
You are singing, and dancing, and spinning, and reminding me that life and love, it's full of grace.
It is in those moments of my torment that I look at you and want to scream, "stop...please stop!". Instead, as I turn to look into your big, beautiful blue eyes, I see it. I see the grace and I am reminded of what I want most for you and Cole, a happy childhood.
You remind me of love, and grace, and life, and comfort.
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Stop.

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