28
Dec

In a nutshell

The season is over,
the decorations will soon be down,
the house will go back to normal mess.

Another year of picking it all out, wrapping it so, and making sure we see smiles on their face that morning.
Another year of traditions and moments.

And here's why I love it all...

I love that we have incorporated his childhood traditions and wonderful family moments into our family.
Like looking at lights on Christmas Eve,
making sure decorating the house is a family project,
making sure the night before Santa and his elves are hard at work.
I love that we have so many of our own traditions.
Like breakfast together,
black Friday shopping that's one of our best date nights,
the morning of being just us four,
the night before being all about family,
the baking,
new pjs every year for everyone.

And I love how close we seem to get this time of year.
You almost can't help it with how excited they are.
How magical they make it all.
How they get along almost well for a few days after, playing together and discovering their new toys...together.

In a few more days, the new will be old.
The routine will be back to normal,
the house will be back to its old messy self.
Life will be busy,
work will take over again.
Classes will start and school lunches will have to be packed.
Backpacks will be loaded, homework will start.
Juggling Cole and daycare and bus schedules and meetings, it will all start.

But, we had another year of memories and time.
We got to see their smiles, see how excited they were.
He knows about Santa now and she believes with all of her heart.
They trust in elves and in us.
They believe in magic.

And, I believe in us.
I fall a little harder this time of year, for you, for them, for all of us.
And it's because you work so hard to make it special for them.
I wish you could see your eyes when you find that perfect gift, or when you're finished putting together that special toy.
I wish you could see the look on your face when you show them a new experience and the fact that you're reliving your childhood through them too.
I know I make a bigger deal out of my second chance and I know that you had a magical childhood and don't need a second chance, but you're getting one anyway.

In a nutshell, I love this time of year.

22
Dec

Dear Cole

Dear Cole,
Last year, I wrote a letter to your sister filling her in on some little thoughts I had for her. This week, I write your letter about what I want to share with you , about love, life, parenting, jobs and careers, people and about being a boy and a man. About finding you and just you in this world we all get an opportunity to live in. And so we start dear Cole...

- Anna will one day be the only person that knew you from the day you were born, she will remember all of you.
- Trust in who you are and listen to your inner voice.
- You are going to make mistakes and that is more than okay.
- But, always own and apologize for your mistakes.
- I have learned from dad that teams teach you so much about life. Be a good team-mate in all ways.
- And always keep games in your life.
- It is up to us to teach you about how to respect people and consent and kindness. But hear me loud and clear, it is not just up to women to make sure that they are not hurt, it is up to me to make sure that I teach you it is never okay. Nobody is a prize that you earn.
- I do not know what social media will be like as you continue to grow, but I do know that some sort of privacy will always be in order.
- Be like your dad - use him as your guide in life.
- Use technology to connect with people, not to cut them out of your life.
- If you are around people who aren't kind, you are saying that is okay and it is not ever okay.
- Surround yourself with happy - people, places, careers. It just makes life easier if you're happy.
- And find people that make you laugh with your whole body.
- Don't stop talking to me or dad or Anna. No matter your age, we are always a team.
- Work hard for all you want.
- If you don't love your life, change it.
- Keep challenging yourself.
- Remember that you fought for a lot when you were just a baby, I expect the grown up version of you to do the same.
- Be gentle and loving to all.
- You have a smile that melts, use it wisely.
- You made me believe in love at first sight.
- But most relationships, take a lot longer than that.
- I will always be the first woman who loved you, but I promise to be kind to all that follow.
- It's all important and it will all get done.
- Don't waste time (being mad, or procrastinating or with people). We don't have very long.
- Help others.
- Own a pet (you know how I feel about dogs).
- Hold hands, it makes people feel special.
- Don't forget what a great snuggler you are.
- Have a happy childhood, everyday of your life.
- If you decide to become a father, you have a really good example in front of you.
- If you can picture yourself together long after your bodies change, and in the thick of kids and dream of your gray wrinkly years together, that's who you marry.
- People will inspire you or drain you - pick them wisely.
- You have a good heart sweetie, trust it.
- Nothing you do or say will ever make me love you less or more.
- We are always on your side, even when we don't agree with you.
- Your name means victory so you're already a winner.
- Know that we are here.
- But also know that you won't always need us.
- Know that we will always love each other.
- Know that we tried with you.
- We love you.
- We wanted you.
- We tried our best.
- We made mistakes, but we loved.

19
Dec

Five Minute Friday - adore

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 adore.
Go.

You and the life you have allowed me to live.
You and the second chance you gave me.

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You and the little you fill this home with.
You and your love, your patience, your forgiveness.
You and your gentle side.
You and your sibling love.

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You and your childhood laughter.
You and your little words.
You and your hugs that fill me full.
You and the fact that you showed me that love fixes the broken.

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You and your thoughts, your words, your expressions.
You and your ability to make me smile.
You and the fact that we touch toes at night.
You and how you hold my hand.
You and your hold.

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You and your faith in me, in family, in team.
You and how childhood comes to life this time of year.
You and how much you believe in all things magic.
You and how much you believe in me.

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You and your curls that prove you came from me too.
You and your smile that proves you came from me too.
This time,
this incredibly fleeting time.
These small moments in all of life that we are allowed to spend with you.
I don't always like the life we created,
but I always adore it.
Stop.

Houser01

14
Dec

Goodbye

I knew when we were pregnant with Cole, that he would be our last.
That after Anna, girl or boy, it would be just one more for us.
I knew that every milestone with him would be our last first.
I did take it all in, I did cherish the newborn, I did relish in those first few days/weeks/months.
I loved that first year.
And just this week, I read "If I Could Keep You Little" to my little man and it hit me, it is time to say goodbye.

The truth is, I don't know if I will ever get over it.
I don't know if I will ever feel "done" (like many other families do).
But, we have two healthy, happy kids.
And I don't actually want more kids.
I just want to go back in time and have these incredible few years with my kids.
I want some sort of time machine do over with the littleness I brought into this world.
And so today, I will write my goodbye
to babies
and little
and little noises
and onesies
and baby fingers and toes
and little cries
and snuggles with heads that can't hold themselves up.
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It's time to say goodbye to what was and hello to the great stages we have ahead of us.
It's very much time for me to love the stages I am in and not want for the stages that are gone.
And so...

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goodbye pregnant belly
goodbye first movements that felt like butterflies
goodbye naps and sleeping so soundly when I was pregnant
goodbye dreaming of you and what you will look like, who you will look most like, who's personality you will take on.
goodbye to hospital stays and feeling like it was such a great vacation
goodbye to constant doctor visits to check your weight
goodbye 4am feedings
goodbye bottles to clean and get ready
goodbye little ears that I would massage to stay awake
goodbye little face that I would stare at forever, taking you all in
goodbye to figuring out your cries and what you need
goodbye baby clothes
goodbye to mouths that would look like a fish when you were hungry
goodbye to pouts
goodbye to so much little and being overwhelmed by little
goodbye to having you sleep on my chest
goodbye gassy bellies
goodbye little fingers and toes
goodbye watching your hair grow in and seeing what it would be like
goodbye to watching dad hold you and seem like a giant
goodbye to watching him love a baby that would fit in his hand
goodbye to watching dad fall in love, all over again.
Goodbye baby.
Because if I could keep you little...
I would hold your hands forever but never see you fly on your own
I would listen to your little little voice but never hear the adult thoughts I will fall in love with
I would watch you sleep more but never see the excitement of having your own place
I would relish in baby baths but never get to watch you give one to your newborn
I would solve every problem you had but never get to see how your mind works
I would hug you, so hard for so long and never let go but never watch you fall in love
My little faces, I love and cherish the stages you are in.
I am proud and surprised by how much you can do.
I am amazed by your words, your thoughts, your ability.
I am so proud.
And if you see me sad, blue even,
don't for a moment think it is taking the place of my pride.
I just need a minute to gather myself, and remember that we can never live in the past.
We can love the memories but we have to move forward.
You have both given me memories in the last five years that will keep me warm...always.
I do not need a do over to go back and love you differently.
I want a do over to love you in that time, all over again.
Because if I could do it all over again, I would do it just this way.
Just this way.
I lingered in that first year and I would linger again.
I took it all in and I I would take it in again.
And then, I would watch you grow.
Because I can't keep you little sweet loves.
So I will say goodbye to every age and find the strength to come to terms with the fact that we will never see that phase again.
And I will always love.
Even when it means saying goodbye.

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12
Dec

Five Minute Friday - prepare

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 prepare.

Go

It's what I do best.
Prepare
for all things.
I plan, I organize, I try and predict the future so that I can be ready.
Always ready.
Never wanting a curve ball.
But, it's life.
And of course they come my way.
All the balls we have up in the air, one is going to fall down.
At any given time.
And there is only so much that anyone can do.
Only so much any one person can do.
But, I am not good at the unpredictable.
And, isn't that what kids are always throwing at you, unpredictable behavior, words, situations?
And, I try to take them all in stride.
But this week, I am tired, exhausted really.
I am tired of it all, and I just want to hide under my covers.
Because no matter how much you prepare, the curve balls will come.
They will be thrown into your face.
Life will come crashing down around you.
And, it's okay to hibernate...just for a little while?
And so, with all the crazy, I will prepare in a different way.
I will make a commitment and prepare for kindness.
I will make a commitment and prepare for patience.
I will prepare for the calm that the season insists on but we keep blocking it with noise.
I will find a way to stop the noise.
I will prepare for love.

Stop.

7
Dec

No more

I force myself to do it.
I strip it all off and I force myself to look,
at me.
The girl who since she was 8 years old always worried and always wanted to look,
different.
I force myself to look now, years after I brought them into this world.
And it is because I have met so many brave women who view their bodies so differently now,
and
it is because of you, dear Anna.
I do not want you to feel like you have to look any different than you do.
I do not want you to worry about how you look.
I do not want you to say things like, I wish I looked thinner, or prettier, or had better hair.
I just want you to treat your body well,
to be healthy,
to focus on health.
And I want you to love you, and love how you feel, and enjoy how you look.
I want the worry that I carry to melt.
And even if I have to fake it at first, the more I say it, the more I stop the hate coming out of my mouth,
the more I too will believe.

So, here I go...

My hair.
I see how it has changed, gotten a bit harder and I know it is because it carries the worry of a mother.
My face, it has more wrinkles, and there are times I do not recognize that smile, but the wrinkles are there because I have been smiling.
I have been smiling for almost 20 years now.
I have found my smile and if that means I wear it on my face, then that too will make me smile.
My breasts, they are gone.
But, they were never great or "womanly" to begin with and now, they are gone.
But it is because I was able and lucky enough to feed two babies.
There are women that want to, and can't,
woman that can and don't want to.
All of those woman still fed their babies, still were capable and loving and amazing mothers.
And luck struck with me,
I wanted to
and I could
so I did.
And ever since, they have gone away.
And now, when I look, well, I remember sitting with you in our chair.
I remember looking down at you, holding you close.
I remember how little you were, how I would massage your ear to keep you awake.
How I would run my finger down your head.
I remember the early mornings and the little noises.
And yes, I remember how lonely it was too, how I felt so attached to you.
But that is why they are gone, and that is okay.
Those moments of just us, they are some of my warmest memories.
My eyes go further down and this part is hard for me.
But, I will do this.
First, there is my stomach.
It has skin that is almost not attached to me, just loose.
And there IS beauty in that.
I carried two hearts,
twice.
Do you know how many women dream of carrying a heart and cannot?
Do you know how much I prayed you would find us?
I shared my body with little faces, two little hands and two babies that hiccuped in my belly.
I felt movement and growth.
I watched you roll over and felt you fall asleep.
I remember butterfly first movements.
I gained and lost and gained and lost 35 pounds.
And in the end, I got to hold a healthy gorgeous baby that through this miracle of life got to come home with us.
So many women do not go home with their babies, and we got to.
Twice.
I survived two surgeries.
And now that means I have a flap of skin that will not go away.
And as my eyes look down a little more, I see the scar.
It's how you came into this world.
Both of you.
And for the longest time (and if I am honest, I should admit that I still do most of the time)
I look at the scar and I feel shame.
Not for the obvious reason of the fact that my body is scarred but because of the fact that it's a reminder of what I could not do.
I could not have you naturally.
And so, surgery.
And so, a permanent scar.
Right there, front and center.
Red, long and forever a part of me.
Like the two of you, forever a part of me.
And I look, I run gentle fingers over it because even after two years, it is still a weird sensitive.
And I make peace.
I make peace with the loose and I make peace with the forever scar.
I make peace.
I am different.
I will continue to look different.
I am continuing to change.
I am forever different since you came into this world and
that is more than okay.
Everything else has changed too.
My body is just one part of the change.
So I look at my face that carries memories and laughter and worry.
I look at my body that carries skin where you once rested and were a part of me.
I look at my scar that started your first independent breath.
And I let go of any image that I have had.
And for the first time since I was 8,
I let go.
No more.
No more shame.
No more hate.
No more wishing.
No more obsessing.
No more hateful words.
No more self insults.
I carry beauty.
I got to carry you both.
I got to see you enter this world.
I get to mother you.
I get this time.
And that defines beauty.

5
Dec

Five Minute Friday - Dear

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 dear.
Go.

Dear Anna,
I started this entire blog because I needed to find a way to express how you have given me a second chance at childhood.
I needed to find the good in this world again, and I found it the day you found us.

Dear Cole,
Have I ever told you that you completed a puzzle we didn't realize was missing a piece?
You allowed my heart to grow to twice its size.

Dear Cory,
I found so much more than a husband when I met you.
I found my partner, my rock.
The one person I want to wake up next to, hold hands with...
forever.

Dear Anna,
You started parenthood.

Dear Cole,
You define little.

Dear Cory,
You give me hope.

Dear Anna,
You have a gorgeous heart and I am inspired by your mind.

Dear Cole,
I love your words.

Dear Cory,
Thank you.

Dear Anna,
I carry your heart.

Dear Cole,
I eat you up I love you so.

Dear Cory,
Olive juice.

Dear family of mine,
Thank you.
I don't say it enough, but I thank you.
Thank you for your patience and thank you for your love.
Thank you for your hugs and smooches,
thank you for humoring all the traditions I throw at us.
Thank you for finding each other and thank you for always holding on.

Dear family of mine,
you fill me full.

Stop.

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