A House is a House is a Home

I meant to post this on the one year anniversary of us moving into our new house. But, that was December 20th. And, we all know how that story goes. It’s a magical and wonderful and exhausting time of the year. I love the Christmas season. I do. But, it can be A LOT. And, so, I love a fresh New Year too. But, that fresh, first week into the new year brought a two hour school delay for my littles, followed by a two hour early release, followed by two snow days, followed by a nasty sinus infection, followed by more snow days. So, yeah, that all sounds about right … And, here we are … on a random day toward the end of January that holds no significance. But. That’s okay. Because that’s usually just exactly when you catch yourself flooded for some strange reason, by memories, that slam into you like a heavy weight. If you’re like me, they leave you teary and uncertain about how on earth time slipped away so quickly … just before you really had the chance to be as fully present as you meant to be …
When we moved out of our first home, I needed to give it a proper goodbye. My way. Now, if you know me really well OR if you’ve ever been an ex-boyfriend of mine (which none of you have … Bless) then you already know … a “proper goodbye” means a good old-fashioned letter. I’m probably the only one snickering over this. Okkaay. Moving on …
My Proper Goodbye —
It’s hard, sometimes, to say goodbye to a house. Especially one that grew close to your heart in ways you never knew a house could …
This little house – it felt so big to us when we first moved in. We were fresh out of an apartment in Nashville. Married only 7 months. Just the two of us. So excited and proud of ourselves. Whole entire rooms sat empty for months (years). I can hardly imagine it now. But, we didn’t come with a lot of stuff. It hadn’t accumulated at that point. And, we certainly didn’t have the money to actually buy new furniture. But, I don’t remember that even being a thing. We were just so happy that we bought our first house! We made it feel like home. Though, I, for real life, cannot, no matter how hard I try, figure out what on earth we did with our time. Can’t. Remember.
A year-ish or so later, we brought a Harper Jane puppy home. And, a year-ish or so after that, we brought our baby boy N home. And, three years after that, our sweet girl A. And, the stuff accumulated rapidly. The space shrunk in the same way that our hearts grew … all full … in the best ways.
The carpet in the nursery has my footprints embedded in it from hours upon hours of pacing with a sleepless baby N. I’d bop and sway him around that room in agony – desperate for him to sleep. Now that matted carpet just reminds me of my precious baby. Desperate nights led to sweet memories.
A few years later, I’d tuck a sleepy A in that very same crib, in that very same room and wish that she actually would LET me rock her …  just for a little while.
The back yard – where puppy Harper kept tearing up Ryan’s newly planted grass. I still laugh when I picture her pulling up a corner of a specific square of sod and making him chase her to get it back! Where I (at 7 months pregnant), broke my toe kicking a ball for Harper. Where our babies played for hours and hours and hours. Baby pools, water tables, sand boxes, bubbles, s’mores. Where we created our own little haven. A refuge. A place that was all ours. Where N and I watched clouds and had picnics. Where 2 year old N road his red tricycle round and round the patio for hours on end and pushed his plastic lawnmower around the yard. Where Ryan and I would sit by the fire pit and talk and dream and plan and hope and pray. Where, whenever things were getting hard – when we started to feel like zombie ships passing babies back and forth in the wee hours of the night – we would meet and share and reconnect.
Where 3 year old N climbed and jumped over our 6 foot fence leaving his momma (who thought he’d been kidnapped, naturally, because what 3 year old does that) a panicked mess. Where 2 year old A spent hours sliding, “tumble-saulting”, dancing and playing “mommy” in her play house. My heart actually aches picturing those babes, covered in chalk, running around in their underwear in that lovely yard where we watched the seasons change…
The dining room – where Ryan and I learned how to have a date night IN … especially on Valentines and certain anniversaries when we didn’t want to pay for a sitter … or leave our babies. Where we blew out countless candles, held kids birthday parties, celebrated holidays, and “Friends-givings”.
The Kitchen – oh that kitchen! There’s a reason that people love their kitchens and spend hours designing and decorating them in their minds. It’s because it’s true what they say – the kitchen IS the heart of the home. In our kitchen, in that house … it was where the first spoonfuls of baby food were lovingly, exhaustingly prepared and airplaned in to little mouths. Where first bites of first birthday cakes were tasted. Where the best dance parties took place. Where real life happened.  The breakfast, lunch and dinner … the cleaning up after the breakfast, lunch and dinner. The witching hour … when the crying felt like it would never stop … always in time for dinner. Those weren’t my best “dinner years”. Oh, but they were the years when N and I discovered our love for baking  cookies together. We let A in on it too, after a while . And, they were the years when all the crafts happened. Where N would say, “let’s do a project, Mommy” and so we would … create, draw, make, build.
The Living Room – If we “lived” in the kitchen, then we lounged in the living room. Where N and I watched all the episodes of Curious George there ever were. And, Rio and Despicable Me on repeat. Where Ryan scratched up the ceiling the year he went all Griswold and brought in a tree too big for our yard … “It’s not going in our yard, Russ…” All the lovely Christmases.
Where we built lots of Legos and lots of blanket forts. Where we’d snuggle and nap and rest.
The hallways and bedroom floors in that home were for drying off and lotioning up babies after bath. They were for jammie time and singing nursery rhymes … and running wild …right before getting ones jammies on, naturally.
The kid’s bedrooms – where all the bedtime routines took place. Where the books were read. The stories were told, the songs were sung, the prayers were prayed, the butterfly/Eskimo kisses were passed out. Where we snuggle-buggled and talked about all the things … especially about how we’d love each other to the moon.
Even the landing on stairs of that house has its own special memories. That’s where all the best “fun joes” happened. If you don’t what at “fun joe” is, ask N. He’s the inventor and the only one who truly understands just what a “fun joe” is. Hint: it involves ALL (and I mean ALL) the stuffed animals. “Fun joes” were also allowed in the master closet with flashlights for extra fun-joe-fun. Though, I must admit, while pregnant with A, those “fun joes” became “naptime” for a tired momma. Sleep when you can – new mommas – and where you can.
The landing was also for Christmas morning. All the “first” Christmas mornings – right there in that house.
The Garage – Where N learned to love building with his daddy and painting with me. And, where A learned to love to run out and dance in the rain.
That house meant a lot to me. We became a family there. We grew and prayed and learned and struggled and trusted and hoped and prayed more. We grew stronger in our relationships with our Lord. We taught our children that same love and faith.
Now, it’s been well over a year since we packed up and moved out. We said our goodbyes. It was sad. But, it was a good sad. And, now, if I drive by, I’m okay. All those memories. They were ours to bring with us. Maybe the house kept some of it’s own (I like to think that it did), but we packed ours and brought them along with us. They were never meant to be left behind.
With that house and with our new house, I had a big faith that our prayers were heard and answered. I know they were. We prayed our way through that whole selling, moving and building process. We prayed through each step, holding hands and doing it together. And, so, when it was time to walk away from that sweet, special first home of ours – we did so with a confidence that the Lord had us. He HAD us. He has us.
We were moving forward with His blessing.
We were ready for our new house. Our new HOME.  We knew we’d fill it with beautiful memories as well … and oh, how we are! They aren’t the same. They won’t be. They can’t be. These new walls won’t echo with the cries and giggles of our babies, but they’ll hold the laughter of our children as they grow. I am full of hope and happiness moving forward … We’ll keep holding hands and praying our way …

To My Boy, On His 7th Birthday 

My sweet boy,

I know I say it every year. But, you are growing up. Things are changing for us and in us, and my boy, you are a big kid now. It’ll always be hard (maybe impossible even) for you to understand … the way the changes in you effect my heart. I know it’s natural for you to pull away. I know it’s normal for you to drop my hand when you think others are watching. I know big guys might turn away from their momma’s kisses every now and then. I know. I just didn’t think it would happen to us … not yet … not so soon. My poor momma heart can’t handle it. You are my N bug. My first baby. We were always connected in a special way. The thought of that bond being severed in any way is just more than I can take. 

You are the one who has and is teaching me so much about life and love. And I know I’m making this birthday letter all about me and my poor, raw feelings right now, but oh my love, you are my heart. My biggest life lesson right now is mostly about allowing my heart to stretch and let you go a little bit more and a little bit more. You’re SEVEN! You’re in 1st Grade now. You are learning what spreading your wings might look like. What it might feel like. I shouldn’t be so surprised.

My boy, you amaze me in most all the ways. You are smart. You are funny. You are kind and caring. You are witty. You repeat quotes in movies, while the movie is STILL playing … just like your daddy. You are creative. You are silly. You are quiet. You are observant. You are tender. You are loyal. You are logical. You are strong.

When I close my eyes and try to freeze you right here and now, at 7, I see you —-

Climbing. Trees. Walls. Light posts. Anything. Always climbing.

Riding your bike. Fast and confident and sure. Always riding that bike.

Playing. Playing Beyblades or trading Pokémon cards.  

Collecting. All the junky toys. All the time.

Building. Legos, creations, forts, etc.

Snuggling. Under “brown blankie” or your “monkey mat”.

Swimming. Around the pool with your snorkel on.

Doing cannonballs into the pool or crazy moves down the slide.

Soccer. It’s your sport.

Buzz cut. Your current ‘do.

Thinking. That mind of yours is always going. Always thinking. Always planning.

Reading. We still love to read together. Our books have evolved over the years. I’m holding on to that. 

Being. I love to just BE with you. 

So, while I miss (sometimes almost wildly and unreasonably) the way we used to snuggle under a blanket and watch Curious George together for hours on end … all tangled up together, I do cherish and adore our relationship now … just as much. I love our conversations and how we talk. I love the little man that you are. I love our “dates”. I love how your mind works. Always thinking, inventing, listening. I love you. All of you. Every stage of you. Every year of you. To the moon. For all time. 

Happiest “Golden” Birthday! #sevenontheseventh

Love, Your Momma

To My Girl, On Her 4th Birthday

To my sweetest, A, on her 4th birthday —

Oh, Little Miss, it’s been quite a year. 3 was not easy. One day, maybe you’ll find out and you’ll understand. Maybe when you’re a momma, just like you want to be (“I want to be a Mommy when I grow up”), you will struggle through “3” with your own littles. And, I will be there, God willing, to help you through it… and to laugh a little bit along the way.

At 3, you tested me in every way imaginable. 3 was hard. For both of us. In a lot of ways and for a lot of different reasons. But, we learned and we grew and we cried and we yelled and we prayed and “we” read parenting books and we tried and tried again … and we made it to the other side. We did it! We did it together, my girl!

Now, we’re at 4 and oh, how I’ve prayed for a better year for us. We are close, you and I. We spend most of our time together, happily so. School (preschool) is not your favorite thing … it never has been. And, so you go … reluctantly … but you’d rather be home. You are my little homebody. You love our “outings”, but you’re always ready to go home. “Can we go home now, Momma?” You want home. You crave home. Familiar. Comfortable. Happy. Safe. Secure. Fun. Warm. I’m so glad that these are the things that HOME means to you. My heart beats stronger knowing that I’ve created a happy refuge for you. Oh, my girl. You love to just BE. You want freedom and peace and rest and quiet. You sit and play with your toys for long quiet hours and it’s in your play where I learn and listen and hear the most of who you are and how you see your own world. Though you often catch me watching and say, “Don’t look at me!” … I have to listen. It’s where I find the details of your day and your life … listening as you play and talk with your toys, your “girls”.

At 4, you are full of “I love you’s” and kisses and loooonnnng goodbyes. At 4, you are still fiery and bossy, but calmer and easier to settle. At 4, you are loving and sweet, but still demanding and easy to anger. You love BIG my girl. You already cry hard and loud when your heart is hurting. You feel BIG feelings. You are tender and harsh, all at the same time. You expect a lot, but you give great love in return. You are a wonderful mess most of the time! Your daddy and I have great fun imagining who you’ll be someday …

My “snapshot” of you right now, at 4 …

Twirling and dancing in the kitchen, in the backyard, on the sidewalk.

Singing loudly (to your brothers dismay) in the car … everywhere we go.

Making up your own tunes, your own words, your own grand stories.

Dresses and tutus and frilly skirts and princess gear.

Messy hair and messy hands.

Running with a soccer ball like a natural little athlete.

Cute and disheveled … all at the same time.

Ballerina class.

Bossy and demanding. Trying to “rule the world”.

Getting lectures about being kind and nice and showing others grace.

Listening to Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown” and knowing all the words.

Saying, “you’re my baby girl, Momma” and “we’re best friends forever” and “never leave me, Momma, I want you to be my baby forever and ever…”

Laughing hard and loud when something is funny to you.

Asking for a snack. And, another snack. And, more milk.

Ranch and carrots.

Playdoe and markers.

Did I mention the messy hair already?! Ha ha ha!

Sweet bedtimes and “Will you sleep with me for a few minutes, Mommy?”

Asking for your daddy in the morning … you want him to sing his special morning song to you before you get out of the bed, each and every day.

Heartbreak over saying goodbye to your beloved paci.

Bunny and Blankie — your best friends forever.

Wearing your Cubbie vest to Awana and proudly learning your Bible verses.

All the pink. All the time.

Playing with your neighborhood friends … just like a big girl.

Kissing boo-boos and needing lots of band-aids for imaginary scrapes.

Holding hands and holding hearts.

Oh, my sweetness. If I could keep you little, I would. I’d keep you soft and squishy. I’d keep you all to myself. I’d keep you home, away from the world. I’d keep you as safe as I possibly could manage. I’d keep you. I’d keep you just the way you are … the good, the hard, the messy, the imperfect, the beautiful, the funny. I’d keep you, always. But, grow and go you must. It’s just the way, my love. But, I’ll be here … my heart is yours to keep … always, always. No number of birthdays will ever take that from us.

Happiest 4th Birthday, Baby Girl!

Love Always, Your Momma


Am I the only one?

Am I the only one that lets the fear creep in? It’s not something we talk about, of course. It’s un-discussable. I don’t even discuss it with my very best friends. We don’t talk about it because it would make us sound strange and morbid … and a little crazy . We talk about everything, but not this.  So, maybe that means I am strange and morbid and a little crazy every now and then. Not most days. Not even most-parts-of-some-days. It’s more like moments. A moment when I stop all of the million things that I’m always doing and let the fear creep in. It catches me in a vulnerable point, while I’m watching my babies and reflecting on how happy I am. Then, sometimes, it attacks. It’s like a bad seed planted in my head. It’s there somewhere whether I like it or not and it makes me crazy.

The thing is, I’m a happy person. I choose happiness and I don’t find it to be that hard. I was born cheerful. It’s a good thing. I’ve always felt blessed to have a natural cheerfulness. Right now, at this point, my life is SO FULL. I am just so stinkin happy. I have so much to be happy about. I’ve been blessed with a marriage that I thank God for every single day. I found my other half in this world. Together we are whole. It makes me happy and it TERRIFIES me. I’ve been blessed with not one, but two healthy babies. I carried them full term, having fairly uneventful pregnancies and labor with each. They are beautiful and sweet and everything I always dreamed they’d be. It terrifies me. If I stop and actually think about what that means, I’m left paralyzed. Caught in the realization of just how much I actually have to lose. Am I the only one? I don’t mean to do it. Yet, at times, I catch myself waiting for something bad to happen. Like, okay, I’ve been happy this long now, when is it all going to fall apart? What tragedy is going to find me? It’s gross, right? I’ve never actually said any of this out loud. But, I think about it. About how much I have to lose and what it would feel like. Then I cry. I cry for a loss that hasn’t even happened. Then, I snap out of it, push the fear away again (damn you, just leave me alone), and go back to doing what I do day-in and day-out.

I mentioned some of this to R one day. As casually as possible, I mentioned that I was afraid that maybe I was too happy and that it just couldn’t last, right? Could it? He didn’t say anything for a moment. Who would?! But, then he did. He said, “Baby. God wants you to be happy.” For some reason, I didn’t expect this response. I don’t know what I was expecting, but not something so simple, so sure. I let his words wash over me and seep into me. I let them comfort me and feed my soul. It’s been a few years since he spoke those words to me, but I still cling to them. When the fear tries to creep in, I take out those words, “God wants you to be happy” and I play them over and over in my head. God does want us to be happy. It doesn’t stop tragedy from happening. It doesn’t make all of the ugly go away. It doesn’t give me any more control. But, it makes me feel better. It does keep the fear away a little longer. It does provide comfort. It’s enough for most days. Still, I wonder if I’m the only one. If I’m not, then whoever you are, you should know … you aren’t the only one either.


Side Note: This article deserves a shout out to my dear, sweet friend Sara, who once-upon-a-time (when we lived closer to one another) would have listened and discussed such an un-discussable topic with me. She was never afraid to fess up about strange, morbid thoughts that no one else would admit too. She is a brave soul. I miss you, Sara!

The Hurried Truth

“Hurry, hurry.” I tell him. “We’re going to be late.” “What’s late?” He asks casually, not hurrying at all. I’ve explained “late” at least a dozen times, but his concept of time is not the same as mine. He’s 3. “Hurry” is not a word he enjoys. In fact, it’s not a word he even so much as acknowledges. He sees no need for it. Why should we hurry? I get it. I get him. But, if I were to follow his lead, we’d never actually make it anywhere at all.

I struggle with this. I struggle with hurrying him. I love who he is. I don’t want him to have to hurry. But there are certain protocols that society dictates and expects. It’s the game of life and we have no choice but to play. We must be on time … or at least close.

Like most 3 year olds, N is a free spirit. He beats to his own drum. This big ole world hasn’t broken him, hasn’t even attempted to snuff out his soul. And, I don’t want it to. I want to see this world through his eyes. It’s beyond refreshing. Yet, a typical outing for us involves a battle over getting dressed (“I want comfy clothes, not jeans”), over brushing teeth (“Not right now, after George is over”), over getting his shoes on (“Not yet, not yet, not yet”). Once all of that is done, and N is buckled in his car seat it’s usually, “Oh, Mommy, I have to pee again” or “I forgot my blanket” or fill-in-the-blank item of the day. I try to make it to where we are going. I try not to snap his neck in the process. I aim to be on time. I do. And, I was never very good at being on time when it was just ME. Now it just feels nearly impossible. Oh, yes, and did I mention there’s the other one too?! A, the 7-month-old who’s certainly not without her needs. She loves to fill her diaper with a fun surprise right before we head out the door!

So, how do we find a balance between letting them move freely at their own pace, enjoying the world as they go and making it out the door to where we need to be? I struggle with the anxiety that I feel about time and hurrying. It makes me frazzled. It makes me impatient. Some days, it even makes me mean. I snap. I threaten. I certainly say things that I shouldn’t. And, I feel terrible about it.

Today, I hurried them. But, I used more kisses and less empty threats. I used gentle reminders. I started the process earlier. It felt good. Still, A was crying when I buckled her in. Still, a glass was broken and needed cleaned up. Still, our dog came in with mulch and mud all over her. Still, we were late. But, it’s just going to have to be. I’m just going to have to take deeper, slower breathes. I’m not going to give myself a panic attack. I’m going to use the word “hurry” a little less, but it WILL still be used from time to time. And I’m not going to feel guilty about that. That’ll just have to be. We’ll aim to be on time. But, it’ll be okay if we are a little late. It will just have to be. N doesn’t feel stressed. Why should I? Yes, I have to guide them, lead them and show them what responsibility looks like. But, they don’t need to see me fret over the little things so much. Let’s pick what matters. Take our time where we can. Hurry when we have to, and enjoy a slower pace whenever time allows. Breathe. It’ll all be okay. It will just have to be.