17
Feb

I love you because...

Each year, I hang little notes of why. Why I love you to bits. Reminders that we all need of what we possess that others notice, what and why others love us. I can't even begin to explain what having you has meant, has done, has changed. Your dad always knew you would be a part of our story, I needed way more convincing and we are just so lucky to get to do this with you, for you.

Bella, I love you because...

You always try.
You are a book worm.
You run with me.
You really love Pearl.
You miss Mia.
You care about your friends.
You love our traditions and demand them as much as I do.  
When you laugh, you do it with your whole body.
You love family movie nights.
We share books together.
You kiss noses.
You love to learn.
You work at the piano and you sound so lovely.
You love your family.
You are my Valentine.
Love, mom.

Anna, I love you because...
Because of your love of books.
You are an amazing artist.
You are open to trying new things.
Love, dad.

Anna, I love you because...
You are a rock star!
You love Pearl.
You have the best singing voice.
Love, Cole.


Monkey, I love you because...
Your heart is always full.
You are a very good friend.
You care about school.
You are an amazing little brother.
You are dad's best buddy.
You love with all of your heart and know no other way.
You love food and dance when you eat.
You give me little guys.
You are a great student.
Everyone who meets you knows you have an amazing heart.
You have dad's gorgeous eyes and smile.
You make us laugh.
You love love.
You are my Valentine.
Love, mom.

Buddy, I love you because...
Because of your kind heart.
Because you are my best buddy.
Because you are a great little brother.
Love, dad.

Coley, I love you because...
You are silly!
You are there for me.
You work to reach your goals.
Love, Anna.

Coach, I love you because...
You work so hard on our house and I love to show you off for it.
You have always believed in our kids and you won't settle for anything but their best.
You believe in me.
Our kids look like you and you are so handsome.
You took a chance on yourself.
You are my Valentine.
Love, your bride.

Dad, I love you because...
You share Harry Potter with me.
You share stories with me.
You work hard and never stop till you get there.
Love, Anna.

Daddy, I love you because...
You read Strange Scouts to me.
You are my best buddy.
Love, Coley.

Pearl girl, we all love you!
Because you are the best lover of love.
You love to play outside.
You're snuggly and give great hugs.
Because you run to the door when I walk in.
Because you love our family.
Because you love the snow.
Because you're cute.
Because you ring the bell to go out.
Because you love the fireplace.

Mom, we love you too...
You give me back scratches. Love, Cory
You are beautiful. Love, Cory
You never give up on me. Love, Cory
I love your love of naps. Love, Cory
You buy us stuff that makes us a matching family like PJs! Love, Anna
You are smart. Love, Anna
You love Cape Cod. Love, Anna
You love me. Love, Cole
You are great. Love, Cole
You're the best mom. Love, Cole
You are a fiercely loyal friend. Love, Cory
You work hard all day long. Love, Anna.
Your heart is so full mom. Love, Cole
You work very hard mom. Love, Cole
You are relentless in the pursuit of your goals. Love, Cory
You snuggle with me. Love, Anna
I just love you. Love, Cory

I just love you all too. Love, me

6
Jan

Lessons learned

We have covered a lot of ground, haven't we?
We grew up together, meeting exceptionally young.
We fell in love for very different reasons than why we are still in love.
Because we both changed and continued to grow.
We put a lot on ourselves, we have made some big changes and major decisions.
We have moved countless times, our biggest one leaving city living for an area we hoped to fall in love with and did.
We have worked countless different jobs, doing anything to make it work out and did.
We have paid off countless debt with three degrees and cars and a wedding and a home and a renovation.
We have been through disease and loss and fear of the unknown and concern.

We have aged, drastically aged, and we still think the other is adorable.

In many ways, our life has been like a videotape, me hitting fast-forward, spending too much time in rewind, and you hitting pause and stop.
And after all this time, there is little we know about marriage and couplehood, all these years later, there is very little we can share as any sort of advice, other than find your family.
But, there is a lot we have learned about each other and after almost two decades, lots we do well, lots we still need to figure out. Lots we hope to pass down to you both, lots we hope you do better than us, lots we hope to do better than we are. With each change, each new direction, we struggle, we stumble, and we come back to touch toes.

There are lessons though, some we made the hard way, some that took someone else's opinion, an outside point of view to finally see clearly, some that work just for us, some that just plain old work. And lessons learned mainly means these are areas we messed up on loves and finally saw the light at the end of some pretty dark tunnels.

Lessons like there is no such thing as 50/50.
We're a team, we figure it out, we fill in gaps.
Yeah, we have our responsibilities and yeah, more of the day to day falls on me and more of the big projects fall on dad.

But what I finally came to realize is, what is important to me, gets done by me because I want it done. And if I want it done, that means I do it without complaint and without resentment. If I no longer want it done, I can leave it or I can ask for help in that moment. I cannot rely on anyone to do things that are only important to me because they honestly don't even see them in their path.

Lessons like the little things in any family, with every connection you have in life, really make all the difference. Remembering to make two cups of coffee on the weekend, remembering to plan little surprises, a hug in the middle of chaos, a hotel stay in town, a surprise sitter, a note left out of love. Small, little ways of reminding those you love that you do love them. Grand gestures mean nothing and are not possible when you are in the thick of it, it's the small that will always and forever matter.

Lessons like it is easy to love in the good and even easier to love in the bad, it's the ordinary that needs attention. And it's in the ordinary that you spend most of your lives. It is in finding love while parenting and doing the laundry, and figuring out the bills, and fighting over who ate the last of the ice cream, it's still wanting to be with that person in the every single day of life.

Lessons like be close. Connect and that means no electronics and talk. That means sitting on the couch and touching. That means sleeping next to each other, that means holding hands. That means connecting in the car ride, that means looking at each other, that means hugging for real a few times a day. Be close to those you love and keep them close.

Lessons like one person is a little more responsible for the joy in the relationship. And my biggest lesson learned, that can flip-flop. The one that naturally has joy in their heart will also find themselves staring into a void of unhappy and dark and it will be up to the other to bring the joy. It will be up to the other to make the silly jokes and laugh harder and bring their attention squarely on to joy.

Lessons like you each have a decision to make to stay and keep going. And there will be times you both really don't think it's a good idea and it is the other to ground you back to who you two really are. But, you each have the power to walk away, you each have the ability, you each decide every day, you are who I want to say good morning and goodnight to. You are home.

Lessons like, we give the whole world the benefit of the doubt, give it to each other and think the best of them too. Have them catch you praising them, praise them in public and praise them behind their back, and praise them to their face...praise them for their effort and praise them for loving you the way that they can.

Lessons like sometimes someone will love you with all they have, in the best way they can and it is not the way you "need" to be loved. There will be moments you will feel so lonely and unloved and you need to remember that feeling unloved is not the same as not being unloved. We all give and receive love differently and it is rare for it to match. Find what fills you full, communicate the hell out of it, and know they are doing their absolute best.

Lessons like after 18 years of us and on this day, 13 years after saying I thee wed, well, it's still us. Lovies, I found my person and I was so lucky. It came with such ease and grace in the beginning and I fell so hard for joy and love and laughter. When that ease faded and life got complicated, I got worried, but never your dad. He is always teaching me that it is always and forever us. Learn from the man who built a foundation that he knows will never crumble, he never doubts, he never wavers. He believes in us and because he is so confident, I do too. I have learned that family is the craziest ride of our entire lives and here we are. We have our seatbelts on, we have helmets secured, and we are not going to stop this ride for anything. My biggest lesson learned is that we are in this together and there is no breaking that. 

30
Dec

Change

Close your eyes, fall asleep and stay there. Something that has always been so simple, is so simple. But for me, I am always up, my heart racing, and I have been missing sleep. I am struggling to stay there, and I know why. All of my worries, concerns, and stress are waking me up and telling me I can't. Nothing can change, it all has to stay the same.

That's what time added up over years and years that have led to a decade over a decade does, it makes you too comfortable. It allows you to fall into a routine, your routine, and it hates change. And I hate change, I hate things changing, I always have. But that's okay, I have come to realize, it all has to change.

2018 was my year of different. It was my year of trying and retrying and making things happen. I stumbled, I thought I fell, I thought I was lost, but I regained consciousness and I kept going. I built each month on a different theme and I followed through, I built a year around words and actions. I built who I need to be and I remembered who I always was. I got myself ready for this moment and now, everything has to change.

Everything has to change because everything always changes and it is time this stuck in the routine girl, the one that keeps going in the same direction using the same tools, has to take a very different route. It's time for this woman who hates change to embrace it. And what better way than to make it my word for the whole year?

I will start with you my little faces. It starts with changing our busy routine and grounding into us.

January will be all about family time, even if it's moments each day, ending our day all together, all calm and allowing light to be our only guide. January will be a change to how we end our day.

February will be a change of heart with our letters of love. But this year, the whole family will get involved. A gentle reminder of why you are important, why I am important, why we need each other.

March will be a change in attitude. I will learn how to meditate and ground myself. I need this, my year might be an uphill battle but change is coming and change is good and my responsibilities are shared. I am not in this, any of this, alone. I need to stay grounded, follow my breath, allow the air to move in and out. I need to find a way to put my head on the ground and remember that I am only one and the world does not fall all on me. I will find peace within myself, not outward, but from within. March will be a change in attitude.

April will be a change with my relationship with joy. I will find a way to reconnect with joy and find it in my path every single damn day. I will remind myself that all of this sacrifice is for the ultimate which is joy. Not happiness which is planning for the future, but joy which is present in the here and now.

May will be a change to put aside the big and bold and more and a reminder to focus on the little. The little things in life, the little all around me, the little that is changing and becoming more and more big.

Junewill be to change my relationship with sleep. Once a week I will go to bed with my kiddos. I will close my eyes as my children are and I will be swept away into dream land. I will be okay with the amount of sleep my tired body needs.

July, I will be halfway there, I have made it halfway and I've got this. So June will be to change my relationship with stress. I will find ways to cope that are out of the box, I will find a way out of my own head.

August will be to find my style and dress with how I am most comfortable and feel like my best self.

September will be to connect with me, what I do well, how my year is going, what changes I need to make right away.

October will be to learn a new skill! I have been dying to learn how to use my camera for six years, this is finally the time!

November will be to change my view on resentment and let go of the black and dark I hold. Say goodbye to grudges and move on. Be okay with letting go and move on to all that matters.

December will be to decompress and a chance to reflect and see what other changes I need to make as I walk into a new life, a new purpose a new chapter.

Change I am ready for you, I am embracing you, I am an all in girl and I am all in with the changes I need to make. Each and every step will bring me closer to me, hold me closer to who I am, bring me closer to you. With tender love I say goodbye to you 2018. You were glorious and scary, you were full and lonely, you were my preparation and I am now ready.

18
Nov

The first time

First starting out, there are so many the first time moments.
Some are just pure joy.
I saw your smile.
We smooched.
We held hands.
You asked me to be just yours.
We fell forever in love.
You fell forever in love with Mia.
You got down on one knee.

Some are a big deal.
We decided to move.
We agreed on our place.
We bought a house.
We decided this was ours, our forever home.

Some are life-changing.
A stick changed everything.
Our connection was born.
I felt you move.
I saw you.
I held you.
I fell so hard for you.
I fell in love at first sight.

Some are magic.
I realized you owned hearts.
You walked.
You talked.
You said mom.
You too fell for Mia.
You made me laugh.
You laughed.
You went to school.

Some are crippling.
The doctor called with bad news.
We felt heartache in a way that changed us.
We stumbled and continued to brush ourselves off.
I didn't save a baby item because "we are done".
We said goodnight to Mia.

Some continue to make me smile.
You said yes to Pearl and fell harder than I did.
We made plans for old age.
I started a list of "want to dos".
New traditions with old friends.

Some keep us guessing.
Starting my business.
You starting your side project.
Taking leaps and believing in ourselves, something neither one of us is good at.

The first time we met, it all fell into place for me.
My life was re-written and you started me on brand new chapters.
It's been 18 years and I keep thinking the firsts are behind us and we just get to live now.
But what kind of life is that?
Maybe that's one of the many secrets to marriage is that you have to keep finding your new.
You create your next first times.
And some will be pure joy, some life-changing, some heartbreaking, and some will continue to make us smile.
Remind us of how life keeps writing itself and we have to commit to the pages of our story.

11
Nov

So show me family

All the wounds that I can see.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me connection and I will show you two people that met on simple
fell in love on joy
and became family.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me complications and I will show you two people that leaped over hurdles
continued to create them
and made life more complicated than it ever needed to be.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me a home and I will show you kids and a puppy and stuff
I will show you walls painted and pictures hung
I will show you traditions made and family memories burned into our minds.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me smooches and touching toes and I will show you how we end.
The day, the week, the long, and the tired.
So show me bone tired and I will show you sacrifice and grit and determination.
So show me how you define home and I will show you your nook and a smell that reminds me of you.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me tears and I will show you the ones we create
the ones we shed
the ones we can't help.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me heartbreak and heartache and I will show you this little life.
The one I run towards and away from.
The one I won't allow us to take for granted
the one you won't allow us to turn our back on.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me yelling and temper tantrums and kids still learning and parents still learing
and I will show you us trying.
I will show you how hard it is because they change so much and things have to keep changing
but connections and feeling in each other's lives is what we have to hold on to.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me a type A mom, living alone in type opposite A family and I will show you me.
Show me struggles she has and I will how you how I keep trying.
Show me messes and I will show you temper tantrums I have.
Show me crazy and loud and I will show you an introvert that gets overwhelmed.
So show me family and I will show you us.

So show me love and I will show you all I hold for you.
All the wounds that I can see.
So show me family and I will show you us.

9
Sep

Exhale

It has been a summer.
Like a for real summer.
I don't have off like the rest of my family but even I felt like we were living our best life.
There were sunrises and sunsets
warm weather
paddle boarding
camping
our Cape trip
track days
so many old friends
framily time
so many visits and my heart being full
framily that knows my whole story
framily that accepts and do not judge
framily that only loves and knows we are all doing our best
ice cream for dinner
the kids read their hearts out
they played and played and played
Cole became the best bike rider
Anna went to her first sleep away camp
both kids went to basketball camp with dad
Pearl had an amazing Cape week with her bestie followed by fun with camping
a week with their grandparents and so much adult time
just amazing wrapped into one incredible summer.

Except I could not exhale.
Me, I was the problem.
I was so anxious and so nerved and worried and scared and had this feeling of concern
and there were days where it would pass and then days upon days of it being right there.
But, it's my year of different and so I kept trying.
Trying to figure out why
trying to let whatever it was go
trying to find my breath
trying to let it out, exhale and let go of whatever was on my mind
trying to not let whatever this was ruin this time, destroy the good memories
trying to not let them in on what was happening
trying to get back to okay so I could find my way into joy.

But, as always, the harder I tried, the worse it got until it all piled on and found its own way out.
And then built back up and piled on and found its way out
and such was the cycle I was caught in.

It's going to be okay, just call it out.
Give it a name, recognize that it's there and then it will go away once you have given it fair attention.
But it didn't.
And it hasn't.
And here I am.
With little faces in school and me wondering where I went wrong.

So, I start again.
Because fall is crazy and summer is how I restore.
Because I am mad at myself for not restoring.
Because I stayed too long at a party and I am trying to get back home.
Because I started something so new and so scary that I feel like I might mess it up all of the time.
Because when I do mess it up, it does crazy things to my nerves (upholders struggle with doing it wrong).
Because I have too many balls and I am starting to feel alone.
Because I am celebrating my birthday for the first time ever and I want it to feel special.
Because the weight is hurting my shoulders and placing a foot on my chest.
Because I should be crying more than I am, releasing.
Because I don't want to let them down, I don't want to hurt their memories.
Because I want to make sure they know I am here, even when I am withdrawn.
Because I need to not be withdrawn, I don't want to fake it.
Because there is nothing to fake, things are all okay.

Summer of 2018 was not an okay summer, it was wonderful.
My little boy told me yesterday he was so sad our summer and our time together was over.
He was actually heartbroen that our break had come to an end.
That's how different our summers have been.
Because our summers were not always like this.
Years ago, our picture looked shattered and our pieces were all over the floor.
And at the end of that summer, I started to put parts back together and made some big changes.
Since then, things have been getting better, stronger.
They were concerning and I couldn't have them be concerning.
And the tide turned because we shifted and we made important decisions to change.
I found framily to hold on to.
I reconnected with the past.
I started to take ownership.
I found their little.
I found joy and so did they.

So, I am back to my journey of starting with okay.
Just be okay and then find a little joy.
And with a little joy find a little more joy and a little more.
Find your calm mamma, remember after you take that big breath in, let is out again.
Exhale.

29
Jul

Marriage

It's like I am staring at a puzzle and the pieces are all there.
I can see them right out in front of me, scattered all over the table.
I know that if I start to arrange them "properly" if I get them a little organized I can start to see the picture come to life.
And some days, I am able to put part of that huge puzzle together.
Some days I am able to work on it and there is almost an ease because once a few pieces fall into place, others are more clearly seen.
Some days I can quickly figure out that I need to have the border done first to get the foundation.
I understand that the foundation is key.
And then from there, the colors of the picture come to life.
From that strong foundation holding all the jagged pieces together, they just find their way to beauty.

But some days the puzzle looks like a heap, almost a mountain to climb.
Some days, the puzzle is insurmountable.
Some days ot looks so large and scary I don't know where to start.
Instead, I don't start.
Instead, I feel like just throwing the pieces all over the place.
I destroy the work I put in.
I get too confused and I cannot focus.
I get frustrated and hold this resentment as if I am the only one working on the damn thing.
Because in my angry world, I am the only one.

But my angry world doesn't get to be the way life always is.
Because I find my way back, I have to, I have to come home again.

Some days, it is friends or framily or family that is telling me, this fits here.
Place this one piece here, it fits.
And most days, it is you.
Eye to eye, nose to nose, and face to face,
you are telling me that it fits, we fit.
And because of you, I find my way back.
That's how I always know I am not the only one working away.
Because it is you that brings us back.
It is you that forces me to sit down, pick up one more piece and place it where it belongs.
It is you that reaches for me, reminds me of us.
It is you that actually does most of the picking up, even if I am the one that made the mess to begin with.

Here come the cliches...
Marriage is beautiful.
Marriage is work.
Marriage is togetherness and lonely and sometimes those two exist together.
Marriage is this ride, an actual up and down ride.
A hold on to each other, don't let go of me because we are going over a huge bump ride.
A hold on to me because we are about to crash ride.
A hold on to me because the way up is taking my breath away and I need you ride.
And it's a book with chapter after chapter.
Some that look the exact same for so long you are screaming in your head for a change.
Some that look so different that you are screaming in your head for how it once was.
Some that are so boring that you can't breathe.
Some that are so exciting that you can't breathe.
Some that are so loving tears pour out of you.
Some that are so scary, so harmful, so hurtful that tears pour out of you.
And ours is no different.

So, once again I sit down at the table.
I pick up another piece.
I remind myself of the foundation and I build the edges.
I remind myself that all the pieces are there.
Love.
Patience.
Respect.
Grace.
A loving heart.
A gracious heart.
Pride.
Aweness.
Comfort.
Touch.
Hand holding.
Toe touching.
Smooches.
Talking.
Listening.
Leaning.
They are all there.
And I get to work.

As I do, I remind myself
this puzzle isn't only worth it,
it's not only going to remind me that we can do it, or how gorgeous it is,
it's the only thing that matters.
Because we fit.

8
Jul

I am better, with you.

Find your circle
find your family
find your framily
find those that make you better and hold on, never let them go.
Surround yourself with those that make you the best you.

Because mom did and it has been why I am able to do
be
breathe
become
create
do more
ask more of myself
because everywhere I turn I can say...

You make me better,
a better person,
a better mom,
a better bride.
I am better with you.

You make my eyes wake up,
you allow my feet to touch the ground,
even on cold and early days.

You make me a better person.

You make me forgive quickly, you help me come back to reality.
You laugh at my crazy with me
you make me feel not so crazy.
I am better with you

You made me believe in something big.
You made me believe in family.
You made me believe in love at first sight.
You made me believe in happily ever after.
You made me believe people care.

You make me joyful.
You make me seek joy.
You make me smile bigger,
laugh a little harder.
I am better with you.

There are people that will come and go.
There are people that leave on purpose.
There are people you will push out.
There will be people that you love but life gets too busy.
There will be people you wish lived closer.
There will be times you feel lonely.
There will be times you feel whole.
There will always be people that make you feel worse.
There will always be people that try and step on you.
There will always be people that make themselves feel better by making you feel bad.
But, not your circle.
Not the real family you need in your life.
Not the real framily you create.
Not the ones that you decide, this is who I belong with.

So, go and find those you can honestly say...
I am better, with you.

17
Jun

Adventure day with dad

In case you missed his amazing adventure days, here is the post he wrote:

Adventure Day with Dad

He is a good father because he worries that he isn't.
He is a good father because he enjoys their milestones as much as they do.
He is a good father because he grows with them, he doesn't push away or pull towards.
He is a good father because he sees all their potential and wants and wants and wants for that.
He is a good father because he basks in where they are, right now, here today, he basks in it.
He is a good father because parenthood was always a part of his story.
He is a good father because he cares about them.
He is a good father because he thinks of them, he wants to see them smile.
He is a good father because he plans their adventure days.
He is a good father because he plans their vacations.
He is a good father because he plans their activities.
He is a good father because he plans their birthdays.
He is a good father because he isn't a planner but he is for them.
He is a good father because he loved them even before he met them.
He is a good father because he knew they would come to us.
He is a good father because he plays with them, really plays with them.
He is a good father because he reads to them.
He is a good father because he taught them to ride their bike.
He is a good father because his summer is all about them.
He is a good father because he is.

25
Mar

My hardest step

I set goals
and deadlines
I like to think about my future and where I am headed
where I want to be
what I want to focus on.

Since I was little, I had a goal.
I focused all my effort and attention on one thing.
And at 21, I made it.
Goal...game set match, I was done.
Somehow, I had forgotten to plan for the next thing.
I had forgotten to go past 21 and so I didn't know where to go or what to do next.
I was lost and confused and searching for me and a purpose.

So I did what I always do and I got to work.
Planning and planning
working harder and harder
keeping my future in my sights so I would never lose it again.

Until I met you and well you changed everything.
You happened at the exact time I was lost and getting myself back on track and you took me off the rails.
You made me take my hardest step,
the one in which I believe in me in a completely different way.
I no longer had to just believe in my determination
or in only my commitment
or in me being able to do everything alone.
It was now time to believe in myself as a part of a family.
It was time to believe I mattered as part of something.
It was time for me to believe in me, fear or no fear.
And so, I fell, for you, for us and as I took my hardest step, I believed.

And I started plugging away.
Happy, content, very comfortable.
Until I met you and well, you changed everything.
All over again.
You made me take my hardest step,
the one in which I believe in me in a completely different way.
Not only in my love but my ability to love in a way that no one dreams possible.
It was time to believe in me as a mother
and motherhood
and parenting
and it was now time to believe in me as part of a new family.
One that included a child
and sacrifice
and an outpouring of every emotion.
It was time to come to life as a mother.
It was time for me to believe in me, fear or no fear.
And so, I fell, for you, for us and as I took my hardest step, I believed.

And there I was, happy and content again.
Having this whole thing under control, because control matters to me and realizing that I kicked ass at motherhood mattered to me.
I was once again happy, content, very comfortable and filled with this overwhelming joy.
Until I met you and well, you changed everything.
All over again.
You made me take my hardest step,
the one in which our family is complete.
The one in which I have to say goodbye to little
goodbye to the last firsts
the one in which I become a velveteen mother.
It was time for me to believe in all that I had.
It was time for me to believe in myself, my ability to mother you, my experience and inexperience because you were determined to be different.
It was time to push through my wanting to run towards and away and back towards love.
It was time for me to believe in me, fear or no fear.
And so, I fell, for you, for us and as I took my hardest step, I believed.

I fell for each of you in a very real way.
I fell for your smile, the one that told me all would be ok.
I fell for your connection, the one that told me you were mine.
I fell for your love, the only love at first sight that I have ever felt.

You each made me take a step you didn't even realize I was taking,
my hardest step that had nothing to do with grit and determination.
This step had me believing in a different part of me.
A part that was all mush, all love, all warmth.

It was time for me to believe in me, fear or no fear.
And so, I fell, for you, for us and as I took my hardest step, I believed.

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