The night before you were born, I got ready.
I packed a bag, I brushed Mia, I took a picture with you in my belly, I nested.
But, how could I ever really be ready for you?
Because you were the one and only boy I ever fell in love with at first sight.
You were the baby nurses fought over.
To change, to clean, to snuggle, everyone wanted to be around you.
Because you were always this amazing snuggle love.
And when we catch you finally sitting still, you still are.
You still find your way in to fit just right.
How could I ever be ready for you?


From the moment you were born you were and are always all in.
The way you play, eat, cry, love, hug, smooch, you are always and forever all in.
And you were born with some minor struggles.
Nothing ever too serious, but always struggling a bit.
And that lead to your fight - you are always fighting for what you want (you get that from me).
How could I ever be ready for you?


You were born feeling safe and wanted in this family.
You were born, already loving her, already wanting to always be her partner in crime.
Her side kick, but not her shadow.
Because you were always your own person.
You were and are not going to live in anyone's shadow.
From the moment you started, you let me know that this was your life.
Not a life to be relived but your own brand new life and you were living it your way.
How could I ever be ready for you?


But you do love her.
You do want to be her brother, you want to play with her and make her happy.
You want to be her best friend, you want to share with her and have her share back.
You want to be a part of her life and she will forever and always know your whole story.
She will forever and always be the one that knows you best.
She is the one that protects you.
You are her love at first sight too buddy.
You gave her an important title of sister, and you expect her to live up to it.


And we have learned so much from you little man.
About patience and energy.
About walking towards and away from love.
About you and me.
About the art of parenting and childhood.
About how you define childhood.
About saying yes and limiting our nos.
About how important family hugs are.
How could I ever be ready for you?


And then there is this.
It is so clear that I can't compete with this.
I cannot compete with your dad, your best buddy, and how much you love love love him.
I don't even want to compete with him because your bond is amazing, so strong.
He is your hero, truly your moon and stars.
God, you look to him, reach for him, need him for comfort and acceptance.
Talk about a side kick, you would spend every moment of every single day by your dad's side.
Being his best buddy, his little man.


And our bond is pretty special too monkey.
You have allowed me to really learn how to be most comfortable in motherhood by growing through the discomfort.
You ask for me to snuggle with you
you ask for me to hold you
you ask for me to play with you.
You still ask for me to hug you,
I still ask for little guy kisses,
you still ask for me to sing you "Sunshine",
we still have a glorious part of us.
How could I ever be ready for you?


And so, at four, continue to be all you.
All in you.
All about fun and loud and climbing and go go go and screaming you.
Continue to put your foot down.
Continue to demand respect and to be heard.
Continue to demand us to stop and be with you.
I know I cannot slow you down, you throw me forward.
So in all of the chaos, the crazy and the joy...
you be you.
Because I tricked myself into believing I was ready.
I cleaned, we got a room ready, I read back up on all to expect,
but you, you had different plans.
You wanted to shake things up.
You wanted to test and grow
you wanted to be unpredictable.
You wanted to teach,
and lead.
And so, how could I ever really be ready?
For all of this love, all of this crazy?
How could I be ready for your love of life?
Your adventure
your energy.
How could I be ready to say good-bye to all of my firsts with you?
How could I be ready to put away baby and grow with you?
How could I be ready to have my heart this full?
I simply can't.

Happy fourth birthday little monkey man!
God, you have brought us so much sunshine and so many tornadoes and I thank you for every part of it.
I continue to
eat you up I love you so
mommy's sweet and low.


Five Minute Friday - cheer

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 cheer.

I was never good at this.
Being the cheerleader, being the one to push people on and forward.
Until I realized it doesn't have to always look the way people think it does, the way I thought it did.
Sometimes cheering someone on means just simple listening.
Allowing them to pour their heart out and not say a word, no advice to give, other than cry if you need to, cry for as long as you need to.
Sometimes cheering someone on means letting them know they are not alone, people love you and are here for you.
Sometimes cheering someone on means not letting them hold their pain inside, where it will destroy them.
Sometimes cheering someone on means just simple listening.

The one piece of parenting advice that I got that I think is the only one I have tried to follow is listen.
Don't talk, just listen and listen as intently as possible.
They will start talking and if they feel you are listening, they will continue to.
Don't judge, don't advise, don't push.
Listen to the little things now and they will tell you the big things later,
because to them, it is all big.

And so, I am your biggest cheerleader.
I am always in your corner, to back you up.
Even when you are 100% wrong, I will be your foundation to rebuild.
Because I am here to listen
not judge, not tell you how to do it differently, better, but to help you come to your own conclusions.
To let you fall apart until you are ready to put yourself back together.
To hold your hand and hold you close when you feel your most alone
to cry with you
to listen
to cheer.



A worried mom

I worried for a long time that I would not be a good mother.
To a daughter, to a son, I just wouldn't be good at this.
Because I live in fear.
And at every turn, I am worried.
Worried that I am making the wrong decision.
Worried that I am handling a situation the wrong way.
Worried that I am walking you through the situation the wrong way.
Worried that I will, that I have, let you down.
Worried that you will wish for something different.
Worried that you will see how awkward I can be in my own skin.
Worried that you will figure out how scared and worried I am.
Worried that I have so few answers and so many more questions.
Worried that I will not teach you all you can do.
Worried that I will not show you respect, love, infinite love.
Worried that I am not giving you enough of my time.
Worried I am not giving enough of myself.
Worried that I am not letting you go enough, letting you realize how much you are capable of,
without us, without me, all on your own.
Worried that you won't want to see me when you're grown.
Worried that you will care too much about your body, or how you look.
Worried that you will not realize how strong you are.
Worried that I won't cement the definition of beauty before the world gets to you.
Worried that you will never learn appreciation.
Worried about cliques and boys and girls that will teach you about leaving people out.
Worried that you are followers and forget how smart you are and how you can and should stand and rise.
Worried that you will forever care what others think, and forget to think for yourself.
Worried that we all yell too much and that it is killing your soul.
Worried that we are loving too much or too little, all at the same time.
Worried that I am failing.

Dear worried, caring, loving, mom...
take a long deep breathe.
And then take a moment and realize where you stand.

Here is where we stand:
We are trying.
All of us, everyday, we are trying.
We are forgiving.
Everyday, every single day, someone is outrageously mad and we apologize and we forgive.
We are good people.
And good people raise good people.
We are blemished.
We are perfectly imperfect us.
We are your foundation.
We will always be your rock, your safe, where you can turn to for solace and love and quiet.
We are gorgeous.
In all of the right places and ways, we are gorgeous.
To hell with the wrong ones because our hearts, our smiles and our souls...they shine.
We define beauty and strength.
Not with our looks, not with mom's curls or dad's amazing blue eyes, but with what we can do, with how much we keep growing.
We are humor.
Because we finally realized it is the only way to get through this life, laugh at it all, it is too hard otherwise.
We are love.
In how we share, in our time, in our words, in our actions, in our sense of family and community.
We are love.

And so from this worried mom to the one reading this...
stop the worrying.
It will all work out.
They will all figure it out.
They will all grow up.
They will all stand on their own.
They will all learn how to write their name.
They all learn in the way that works for them.
They all figure out their lives, their goals.
They all define their family.
They will all be caring.
They will find love, in all of the right places because you showed them what that looks like.
Let me please remind you worried tired mom, all they need, all they will ever need, are your loving arms.


Five Minute Friday - expect

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 expect.

There are a lot of expectations set.
On us.
A lot of expectations we set.
On others.

When I was younger, my friends were my family.
I grew up with them.
And one regret I have is that I always expected too much
was too hard
needed them to prove themselves to me.

As I grew, I realized how impossible that was, to fill my void,
and I started to put expectations on myself.
And to find me in the fog and anger and loneliness.

And I did.
I found me before I found him, which of course is the only way to find your person.
But we are all hardest on ourselves, hard and cruel.
There are times when I sit back and think I would never allow anyone to talk to me the way I talk to myself.
Because my expectations are high.
And I have always expected too much of me.
And you.
I do expect a lot from you guys.
Not to fill a void, because I found me before I had you,
but I expect you to be glorious you.
And there is a lot that goes with that.
I expect you to flourish
I expect you to rise up to the challenges life brings you
I expect you to be the best person you can be, always
I expect you to live a life that makes you smile and beam with joy
I expect you to make others feel the same, just happy to be around you
I expect you to always speak with your heart and your mind
I expect you to try
I expect you to work hard and play hard and finish hard
I expect you to flourish
and I know you will.

As for my own expectations for me,
I am growing again.
I am putting those same expectations on me because you gave me my second chance and I will not take advantage of that.
I expect to and will live a life that makes me happy and joyful.
I expect to and will live a life that doesn't have me in a cloud of exhaustion.
I expect to and will live a life full.
I expect to and and will be softer,
on me.



Love letter

I started a tradition several years ago - writing you a love letter on a day that celebrates mom-hood. Today, it continues...

I love watching you both play, either alone or together, your creative play is amazing.
Anna, you are engrossed in coloring and stitching and writing.
Cole, you are obsessed with building and cars and trains.
I love vacationing with you both.
I love watching how excited you get about our trips Anna.
You really do see them as wonderful adventures and you so look forward to all you get to see.
Cole, I love hearing you say "wow" in a light whisper, as the world unfolds around you.
I love it when you both hold hands, when you hug, when you are love.
I love it when you ask for a family hug.
Cole, even in your little three year old body, you know when we need it most.
Anna, I love hearing all about your day, I love our little talks.
I love running with you and our bike rides.
I love that we can take little swims together and how strong you are in the water.
I love watching you grow.
I still love our Friday nights, our Sunday mornings and I always will.
I love seeing you in PJs, fresh out of the tub, for some reason, it defines happychildhood.
I love how you smell, still able to smell like spring when you come in from playing, or soap once you get a tub.
I love how independent you are both becoming.
How I can count on you.
I love our goodnights. How gentle and loving and calm they are.
I love our reading dates, how close and quiet this time is.
Cole, I love hearing you ask if we can do a family story.
I love how important family is to you buddy.
I love hearing you call dad your best buddy.
I love seeing how much you need him in your life.
I love love love that you have calmed your emotions, and no longer cry all day long.
I adore how much you live to eat!
I love how much you love your life.
I love your laundry, because your clothes are still so so small.
I love seeing your shoes, because they are still reminders of how little you both are.
I love your memory.
I love your words.
I love you both.


This year, you came back to me.
We came close to losing your spirit last summer and we found our way back to each other.
You thrive in love Anna, you need it to function.
Anger or
because I said so or
do this now or
yelling or
that is not how my stubborn girl takes in information.
You are me, you want to be part of the conversation and not told what to do.
You need reasons, why does it have to be like that, reasons.
You need to feel like you have a voice, like you can negotiate.
We are learning together and will continue to but you have taught us that love is the only conversation you are willing to have.
We are listening.


Cole, you have come out of your fog.
Which means you are maturing little man.
You are turning big boy four and you are ready.
Ready for a big boy bed, ready for big boy talks.
Ready for independence, ready for "I can and will do it".
Ready for leadership.
But, you still have a toddler voice, with big boy words.
Your voice is what I need right now.
It reminds me of little sweet love.
And your adorable curls that stick to your forehead while you sleep.
I love how your body curls into mine when I scoop you up.
Oh, how I love your hugs.
Because no matter what you do sweet love, you are all in.
Eat, hug, smooch, play, scream, cry...
you never dip your toe.
It is all or nothing.
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Thank you both for finding me.
Thank you for creating and giving me motherhood.
Thank you for your wisdom, your love.
Thank you for reminding us both to always choose love.
Thank you for believing in family.
Thank you for being two of the best people I know.
And most of all,
thank you for having me believe in happy endings
and love at first sight.
Thank you for defining family.

Houser68 Houser77 - 33


Five Minute Friday - miss

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 miss.

Sitting in my office, a seasoned mother comes in.
A mother with no more babies, just lanky almost men living in her house.
No more small, no more cute.
No more stepping on toys, but tripping over guitar equipment.
No more worried about fevers, but terrified of the future.
And with actual tears, she says, "I just miss my baby, because I will never have him again".
And that's when the tears spill from my face too.

Of course she loves the teenager her son has become,
he's amazing, and their relationship is strong.
But, she misses a little boy she once knew that will never again be there.

Of course she is growing with him, as all mothers do because they have to.
But, she misses goodnight kisses and arms around her neck.
And she says to me, no matter how hard it is now, just enjoy them.
Not patronizing, not declaring she knows it all, just realizing there is so much I will miss of these little faces.
Because there is so much she misses of hers.
And it all happens too quickly.

Last night, I saw a blossoming couple madly in love.
One plus years into their relationship.
Just now moving in.
Embraced, smiling, so full of hope and new.
And I said to her, you remind me so much of us, all those years ago.
And with more tears, it makes me kind of miss us.
Yes, I adore our story and I mean adore it.
Yes, the years we have grown into us, I wouldn't take away.
But, never again will we be that carefree, that able to just love.
Never again, even when they are grown, will we be able to feel that new.
So yes, I miss that version of us.

Growing up, growing old, growing together.
There is such gorgeous beauty in it.
We know each other like no other, all of our secrets are out.
We have a special dance, a long and amazing journey behind and ahead of us.
But I miss newborn babies.
I miss little feet learning to walk.
I miss first words, first hearing mom.
I miss little high chairs and bottles.
I miss holding you whenever I wanted, I miss baby snuggles.
I miss oh so crushing little.

I miss new, exciting, calm, love.
I miss you being my only thought.
I miss early days of getting to know you.
I miss very little responsibility.
I miss pure joy, all of the time joy.

And here is how I know that I love my life,
if given the chance to do this all over again, I would, as long as it guaranteed doing it again with all of you.



When mom was born

Something very special happened on the day you came into this world.
You were born, your birth is celebrated, you have begun.
And we celebrate all of you...
your tiny fingers
your little toes
we guess who you look like
what and who you will be.
You are so pink,
brand new pink.
We celebrate all of you
and your wonder
and greatness
your smallness
We celebrate all of you.

But, in the shadows, in the background, a mom is born.

She too feels small
and scared
and full.
She is full of wonder and fright.
She is full of love and excitement and more fear.
She is full of hope.
She too sees the world differently now.
She too is seeing it all for the first time.


She wants to cry and be held and be comforted.
She wants to rock with you
because she is so small.
She is so scared
and she is full of love.


Her heart physically grows,
she can feel it.
And not just to make room, but because a new love was created.
She is born in labor rooms, in operating rooms, or in law-firms.
She is born screaming her way through it, crying, shaking and fighting for survival, for life.
She is born through natural childbirth, c-section, drugs, adoption, surrogacy, none of that matters.
She is born.


She watches as a dad is born too, a father, and she takes it all in.
She sits and watches, she falls even harder, ever deeper,
in love.
She sees him learn and grow.
She watches him fall in love, all over again.
She watches his chest, as it too fills.
She can feel that too.
She watches, as a dad is born, a father,
a man who will forever be your back
your amazing
your hero
your dad that fixes everything.
She watches a dad be born too.

100_7158 IMG_0511

She is tired but always finds more to give.
She gives of herself, of her mind, she gives you her body, her soul.
And she is mournful as you take your next step.
She realizes you are always more ready, you are always wanting the next milestone.
And so she mourns your loss.
Your need.
To be completely honest, she is mourning your loss to need her.
She has to keep herself and her desire to hold you undercover.
She has to move forward with you because she won't be left behind.
She is born.


She is torn down, she rebuilds.
She is awakened through exhaustion.
She is the love that fixes the broken pieces.
She is right, she is wrong, she doesn't care,
she just wants peace.
She is born.


She creates, she does destroy,
she is fearful and feared.
She is strong, even during her weakest of moments, her strength is like no other.
She is born.

Houser70 IMG_1818

She grows along with you,
day by day, she is growing too.
She is taking her first steps, her first words, as mom.
She is learning, through you and your ways.
She is learning a new rhythm, a new dance.
She is so new, so raw, so glorious,
she is born.

She tries to be and stay in the background, so you find your own way.
She realizes you have to find your own strength,
and independence...
she is raising you to leave her.
Let me say that again because it is worth repeating...
she is raising you to leave her.
She is born.

She is and does define love.
and grace.
and hard wonderful strength.
She is born.


She watches as sibling love is also born.
She watches as new love is once again created.
A new love between the two of you.
She watches, as everyone's heart grows again.
She feels it inside each and everyone.
She created all of this love, all of these large relationships and feelings.
And she is born into sibling arguments, and fights and the push and pull.
She is teaching, guiding, learning as she goes.

She sees how big the small is.
She sees how gorgeous parenting can be, even in the ugly.
She realizes how much there is to learn, especially when she thinks she knows it all.
She watches you, always.
She adores you.
She changed so much for you.
She changed herself, her body, her definition of self,
god, she doesn't recognize herself
because she was born,
the day you were born.


And then comes the day the seasoned mother realizes, there is so much of her still there.
And she realizes what it means to put on her own oxygen mask first.
And she does, and she finds so much more of herself to give.


Yes, you are to be celebrated.
Your fingers and toes counted and kissed.
From the top of your head down to your last piglet toe,
you are to be celebrated.
You were born.
Fresh, new, all new to this world.
You are the best people she knows.
And she is your biggest fan,
always on your side and always rooting for you.
And she is so lucky you chose her to mother.
See, you created her too.
And that is why each year, your birthday has a very special meaning for her.
It's a very special day for her too.
It is full of memories,
and each second means something to her.
Each second is a count down
to the day she was born.
She is born to love you
she is born to watch you
she is born to raise you
and she is born to let you go.
She is born.

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