life

The Beautiful OrdinaryΒ 

​

I’ve seen a few different posts floating around social media that seem to be written solely for the purpose of a giant YES! THIS! from the 20 or so people that already agree with it. 

Reasons why millennials aren’t having kids. The importance of DOING ALL THE THINGS before being weighed down by boring life. Life choices that seem unimaginable, argued for in the most degrading language, and desperate terms.

The hopelessness, the anger, the bitterness that poured out managed to shock me, and for several hours the words stuck in my heart, with a vague distate that anyone could write this way, never mind feel it.

Sometimes I think that our photo-filled, “adventure-seeking” world has forgotten how to live, because we’re all too busy running, impressing, buying. There’s this constant expectation that to be fulfilled we must be EXCITING!! Travel! Get a hobby! Try new things! Start a business! Be this, be that! And while we’re all running around trying to do everything and be everything, life is passing by without anyone actually living it.

 Excitement and adventure are good – one part of a well-balanced life. 

One part. Not the whole. 

Excitement without rest becomes stress. Adventure without routine becomes monotony. Self-focus without generosity becomes narcissism. 

Here, in my heart and my family, I am always looking for the balance. I’ve learned to say yes to some things and no to others. I’ve learned that calm in my own mind and soul inevitably trickles out into my home and the hearts around me. 

I look around me and see ordinary – everywhere. In our tiny home, our minimal possessions, our simple food, and our careful budget. I see the faces – all those little faces, and the face of the man I love – all these loved ones that are part of a life I’d dreamed of for so long.

For me, this ordinary life, motherhood, marriage – this is beautiful. In the ordinary, I have found love and a contentment I had never known.

 In this beautiful, ordinary life – I have found everything that matters most to me. 

Xoxo, 

Anna 

 

I Was Here

 

I want them to remember that I was here.

Sometimes I was here in big, exciting ways: hosting parties and holidays, arranging surprises, planning vacations, and doing Pinteresty projects.

Sometimes I was here in quiet ways: drying tears, reading books, cuddling during thunderstorms, making snacks, folding laundry, budgeting for necessities and fun, driving them to the activities and friends they love.

Sometimes I was barely here at all, just going through the motions of the day. Watching the clock and wishing it would move more quickly so that I could call for bedtime.

Sometimes I wished I wasn’t here. When the heavy weight crushed down on me, when the enormous responsibility of this motherhood life felt too overwhelming – then I would cry hot, aching tears that didn’t stop, terrified that I was not the mother I am supposed to be, resentful of the freedom that was no longer mine.

But, my sweet loves, Mama was here. Always here. Here for the good and the beautiful that I love to share, and here for the darkness, too.

Remember that Mama was here, that Mama tried and tried again, and remember –  always – that you are loved with every part of my heart.

Xoxo,

Anna

Moments

​

Then there’s this. 

This other side of motherhood that nobody else sees. 

Those moments when you think you might be invisible…and then you wish you were so that at least you could drink your coffee in silence. 

Those moments you find yourself crying over the washing machine and thinking that no one has EVER been as terrible a mother as you. 

Raise your hand if you’ve been there!! πŸ™‹

The other day, I was talking with another mother, whose kids are older now, and she told me, “You’ll miss the hugs and kisses, and as unbelievable as it sounds, you’ll miss the noise!” 

It made me stop and think. Moments, good and bad, are part of every life. But this motherhood thing is about much more than a moment. It’s about a lifetime of moments that are shaping the hearts of my children, and in the meantime, also shaping my own. 

This is why I look for the good,why I share the good – why I am one of those people that loves that silly chain-mail-esque “Love Your Spouse” challenge. 

Not to be fake. Not to say that the bad moments aren’t there. But to acknowledge and remember always that the good is all around. 

Today and every day… I choose joy. I choose love. 

Xoxo,

Anna

Today, One Day, and Always

Today, my loves, your world is safe, secure. Today your worries are about things like what color cup you want, and who gets to choose our bedtime story. 

Your hearts, so fragile and yet so resilient, feel love strongly and forgive easily. Your notion of evil is from stories and those vaguely ominous “bad guys” in your play together are still nothing more than shadowy creatures in your mind. 

Today, when you cry, your tears are easily dried with cuddles and kisses. Your frustrations can be quickly sorted, your smiles frequently won. 

Today, I will hold your hand when we cross the busy street, I’ll slow my steps to walk beside you, and my heart will smile and cry with yours. 

My love is yours, unconditionally and always.

One day your world will feel much bigger. Evil will have names and faces, and sometimes they will not be as far away as you used to think. 

One day your hearts might feel a pain that seems unimaginable, or be overwhelmed with fear. 

One day the words faith, forgiveness, love, courage, and integrity will take on new meaning for you, as you discover how each one matters within your own hearts. 

You will, without doubt, find yourselves tested to the limits of your strength, and just when you think you cannot go on… you will find a way. It is the struggle and the beauty of life. 

One day your worries will be over financial or moral choices instead of cups, and disagreements will be over relationships, beliefs, jobs and politics instead of bedtime stories. 

But oh, my loves, some things will never change. 

My hands will always be ready to help you, my heart will smile and cry with yours and as you find your paths along this beautiful journey of life, my love will be yours – unconditionally and always!

Xoxo, Anna

You Don’t See My Sad – That Doesn’t Make My Happy Fake

Fake Happy

You’ve heard it. You’ve seen it. Hey, maybe you’ve said it yourself.

“Oh, there goes so-and-so posting cute stuff on social media again.” “Yeah, we know what your REAL life is like, honey.” ” GOOD relationships don’t show on social media.” “All those lovey pics on Instagram – they’re so headed for divorce.” “Oh look at Miss Pinterest-Perfect Mom showing off again. Join us in the real mommy world already.” Etc. (These are actual comments I’ve seen posted on various articles and memes around the internet.)

You get the idea.

Here’s the thing – I’m one of those “happy”sharers. If you follow me on Facebook, you will see numerous coffee memes, sweet quotes from my children, and (sorry-not-sorry) an awful lot of written love between me and my husband. I deliberately choose not to share my marital arguments, my children’s meltdowns, my extended family issues, or my financial concerns on social media. Quite frankly, those things are none of your business. (And while we’re on the subject, yours are none of mine, either. I’ll take someone “bragging” about a tropical vacation over digitally fighting with their spouse.) I share those parts of my life with the small, close circle of people I consider friends and family, so those people are part of the entirety of my life, not just a 5-second snapshot glimpse that you see.

I choose, for the most part, not to engage in arguments and debates over religion, politics, presidential candidates, etc. My views are my views, yours are yours. Neither one of us plans on changing our minds any time soon, so why hash it out over social media? Waste of my very-limited energy, to be honest. πŸ˜‰ I can count on one hand the number of people I actually enjoy discussing “issues” with, and though some of those people have beliefs that are directly opposed to mine, there is a mutual respect in place that makes conversation interesting. #novelidea

Who decides what’s “fake” on social media? Who decides that it’s more “real” to clog up a newsfeed with vulgarity, hatred, complaints, or totally irrational, emotion-based politics? How is that more “real” than a mother sharing a good moment in a long day of parenting, a student sharing a success at school, a spouse sharing a digital love note, someone sharing a fun vacation?

Do I honestly have to remind everyone, each time I share a sweet photo of my child, that all around that tender moment were the same frustrations, messes, tears, hair-pulling and self-doubt that every other mother experiences? Do I have to make a memo each time my husband and I argue, each time I brush his hand away, or we say something unkind that we regret? Would that make our love more “real?”

What does it say about our society that we would so much rather bond over the negative than the positive?

Can we all just acknowledge that it’s a given – that those less-than-perfect moments are part of life and love, and that not sharing them with 300 Facebook “friends,” does not mean I’m fake. It means I value our marriage and my motherhood. It means that you, lovely person from my past, or lovely person that I’m getting to know in my present, are not privy to my family’s inner struggles, but that you’re welcome to share in our joys. It means that my children, as they grow and learn and develop their minds and bodies, are not going to be put on display for the internet to mock their tears, watch them use the toilet, laugh over their mistakes, or call them little “a-holes” when they lose their tempers. But you are welcome to rejoice with me when their efforts pay off, or they show kindness, courage, love.

It means that as much as I DO share on here and Facebook, it will only ever be a tiny glimpse of the whole picture of my life.

You will not see photos of me curled up on the floor, alone with sick and sleepless babies yet another night, while my husband works long, stressful hours at his job. You will not see our arguments – or the days when we are just too tired even to talk to each other. You will see me in photos when I’m dressed, with my makeup done, because I’m just never going to be the girl who shares photos right when I wake up in the morning. (#scary)

If you are a friend, not a Facebook “friend,” or an Instagram “follower,” but a friend who is close to my heart and my life, you will see almost everything. But the rest of you, darling people though you are, will have to be content with the good.

And if that makes me fake in the eyes of strangers… so be it.

xoxo, Anna

 

 

The Only Resolution That Matters

The Only Resolution That Matters

Everyone’s all rah rah 2016, it’s going to be the best year yet, here are all my resolutions. My gym is packed, and every store is showcasing their activewear and sexy Nike sneakers “for a better you.” That clock striking midnight seems to give everyone an instant shot in the arm for doing wonderful things that 1 minute before seemed impossible.

Meanwhile, I’m over here having a regular day, wondering if I can get away with feeding my kids cereal for dinner (again) and if that laundry that I forgot to put in the dryer REALLY needs to be rewashed or can I just pretend it’s not smelly. (Pregnancy nose makes it SO much harder to pretend there’s no musty smell going on. #justsaying)

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s resolutions person. I am, however, a pro at the whole nighttime resolutions thing. You mamas know exactly what I’m talking about. Crazy day, lots of noise and activity, maybe a few more yells than you’d like to remember, counting down to bedtime and then – they’re asleep. The feet have stopped jumping, the mouths have stopped chattering, the “Mom! Mom! Mom!” has paused, at least for a little while. That’s when the nighttime resolutions start.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make delicious, healthy, Pinteresty food for ALL 3 MEALS. Tomorrow, I’m going to get up an hour or two before the kids, so I can be bright and perky when they wake. (For the record, this means waking up around 4 am, so make sure you have that coffee pre-programmed to start.) Tomorrow, I’m going to TREASURE EVERY MOMENT. (This will actually happen until something like the cabinet door being left wide open for no reason, or you walk into find an explosion of toddler all over the toilet. #nottreasuringthatsorry) Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

And then tomorrow shows up, and I’m not ready for it because I only slept for 2 hours and those 2 hours were chopped up into tiny pieces in between diaper changes, drinks of water, bad dreams, police schedules. So instead of waking up (at 4 am) to have coffee and “alone time” and get all perky for my family, I’m woken up at 6 by my smiling human alarm clocks, who are full of energy as soon as their tiny feet hit the floor, and are wondering what’s for breakfast? Well – not those adorable little Pinterest food art plates I pinned last week, that’s for sure. #oops

It’s a funny thing I’ve learned, slowly but surely, as I walk (or plod, or trudge, or sometimes kind of just crawl) down this crazy road of motherhood. There really is only one “resolution” that motivates me, that inspires me, that lifts me up.

They will know that they are loved.

When we have cereal for dinner, or when we have seafood and fresh vegetables and homemade dessert – they will know that they are loved.

When I remember the laundry or when I have to reset the washer 3 times in one day (not that that has EVER happened), they will know that they are loved.

When we are out doing activities and snapping photos, or when we’re home doing nothing interesting at all, they will know that they are loved.

When they are saying the sweet, wonderful things that make for Facebook posts, and when they are having cranky moments that are respected and not broadcasted, they will know that they are loved.

They will see me yell, they will see me cry, they will see me try, they will see me fail. But they will never, ever doubt that for me, they are my happiness. That all of them have brought love into my life that I never imagined, and have given me a strength I didn’t know I had.

My babies will know that they are loved. Tonight, tomorrow, always.

xoxo, Anna

What’s Been Going On

All of a sudden I realized it’s been a while – a long while – since I posted on here. (Then after I realized it I took another week or so to actually sit down and write. Ha!) Suffice to say that Baby #4 has been kicking my hiney but now that he/she seems to be calming down in there, normal life is more or less resuming. Hopefully that will include more regular blogging again. πŸ˜‰

Sooo, what do I need to catch you all up on?!

Mikey started kindergarten last month – yes, my “baby” is now in kindergarten. We had toyed with the idea of homeschooling for the early grades, but as Mikey’s personality and learning preferences developed, it became obvious that he would do just fine in public school. In the end, he’s doing more than just fine! πŸ˜€ From the very first moment he set foot on the bus, we’ve seen nothing but smiles and have seen such wonderful growth in him just in these few weeks. We are blessed that he was assigned a teacher who is his perfect fit, and I am beyond grateful for the creativity and enthusiasm that she brings to her class. Before he started I thought I would be one of the teary moms, but quite honestly, it would be hard to shed any tears when I see my baby so happy and excited to learn. So that. ❀

DSC_0864

Ellie is doing “preschool” here at home with me, with Lucas as a sidekick, and she is in heaven with all the extra mommy time and attention. I am loving seeing her blossom in her own way, becoming much more verbal and independent, without Mikey’s strong personality leading her all day long. πŸ˜‰ They are each so different, my babies, and it is incredible watching each of them become their own person, while maintaining that close sibling bond.

DSC_1105

Lucas smiles – all the time. Unless he’s hungry. Then he stands in front of the fridge and yells “MOM!!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs. That’s right. We’re not Mama and Dada anymore, we’re Mom and Dad. Big changes around here. I’m trying to keep up. πŸ˜‰ It’s hilarious to us to see how different he is from the others at that age. He is pretty much fearless, follows the big kids anywhere, including up on monkey bars (eek!) and continues to entertain all of us with his cheerful, silly antics.

DSC_0937

I feel like we have entered a new and wonderful season of life in many ways, and we are literally enjoying (almost) every moment. Of course, along with this new season have come new-to-us things like sibling bickering. I mean, moms, you know what I’m talking about. The whole “She’s looking at me.” “His hand is near my foot.” It gets a little crazy. Sometimes I have vivid flashbacks of taking part in such bickering with my brothers and I feel a tiny pang of pity for my poor parents. #sorrymomanddad

But I have to say – stop reading here if you’re not up for mush – seriously, stop – ok, I warned you! – the happy moments far outweigh the crazy. I had a friend tell me the other day that she doesn’t know how I do what I do, with all the babies. I was thinking about it for a while afterward. I guess the reason is, because I just couldn’t imagine being anywhere near this happy, this content, this fullfilled in my heart and life, if I was doing anything else.

So here I am. A little tired, a little achey, more than just a little crazy… but I’m the happiest girl alive. ❀

family

 

 

Kitchen Updates!

This might just be the most overdue post in the history of my blogging. The kitchen has actually been updated for – um – a while now. Oops. But hey! Better late than never, and I have tons of photos so let’s get started!

As some of you may recall, our kitchen was pretty much monstrous. Like, the stuff of nightmares. Fake orange oak colored cabinets, peeling linoleum floor, boob light, a chandelier that belonged somewhere in the 1990’s… you name it, we had it. However, what we also had were a decent space, working (and matching!) appliances, and a Hubby who loves being handyman when he’s not out you know, chasing bad guys and keeping NYC safe. πŸ˜‰

We went from this:

kitchen

to this:

kitchen

… but of course, the transformation was nowhere that fast! πŸ˜› Because the majority of work in here was being done by Hubby, that meant working around police life, family life, and oh, you know, life in general! But it was so worth the wait.

All of these were temporary fixes for us, with a total price tag of under $1300 over the course of 2 years, so we are pretty happy with that, since kitchen updates tend to be notoriously pricey. (When we first started looking into kitchen updates, we were quoted over $20,000 for what we had in mind. I mean – oh, my. haha) Best of all, it now feels like part of our home, and we are loving it!!

So – progress went something like this. Hubby removed every inch of the cheap, glued on wallpaper… and attempted to keep his mouth G-rated in the process. (He failed. hahaha)

DSC_0754 - Copy (4)

DSC_0030

He removed the bane-of-my-existence chandelier and replaced it with an inexpensive but adorable Ikea one. (He also has a side gig as a comedian. Obviously. Ha!)

DSC_0758

DSC_0049

With a little help from Mikey, he replaced the rusty, leaking faucet.

DSC_0014

What I didn’t get any photos of because it happened a couple weeks after Lucas was born, was that we hired someone to remove the faux wood paneling on the back wall of the kitchen, knock down the half wall, and the top part of the wall leading into the living room, and spackle over the entire kitchen to make it smooth for fresh paint. Bad blogger award goes to me because I apparently have zero photos of any of that. Use your imaginations? πŸ˜€ It was well worth paying a little extra to have a pro do it, since they were in and out in a few hours.

Pretty much my only contributions to the kitchen project were showing Hubby Pinterest photo ideas, smiling sweetly, offering him coffee and alcohol, scouring Facebook garage sale groups for things like our kitchen table ($20!), the island ($15!); and purchasing certain space-saving items like the tiered fruit baskets, which helped make the somewhat small space more efficient.

Now for all the pretty! πŸ˜€

DSC_0830

DSC_0829

DSC_0827

DSC_0852

DSC_0823

DSC_0833

DSC_0834

DSC_0853

DSC_0839

DSC_0844

It’s not totally “done,” since the nasty floor still needs replacing, and the ceiling is still waiting to be painted. But my kitchen went from a place I literally dreaded walking into, to a place that makes me smile and want to bake goodies.

And I mean – that’s the whole point of a kitchen, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

Talk to me, darlings – what have you done to make your home pretty on a budget?

xoxo, Anna

Superheroes…and My Son is 5!!!

It only took me 3 months to post this but heyyy, better late than never, right? Also known as, mommy-can-only-do-so-much-even-on-15-cups-of-coffee-and-blogging-became-lower-priority. Ha! πŸ˜€Β  This whole day, though, was so happy and full of wonderful memories, I knew I had to record it on here.

Over this past year, Mikey became obsessed with superheroes so it was no surprise when he requested a superhero birthday party. Some of you may recall from that unexpectedly popular post back in March that he specifically requested Batman as a party guest. (He later added Iron Man and Captain America to that list.) Now, here’s the thing. I know it’s kind of become trendy to throw giant parties every year, preferably with built-in “entertainment” for the kids, and that’s totally fine if that’s how your family rolls. For us, we have a general plan of “big” parties for ages 1, 5, 10, 16, and the other birthdays as definitely special, but more low-key.

Well, this birthday was a #5, and I have to tell you it was hard to say who was most excited about it all – Mikey, me or Hubby. πŸ˜› In our usual way, we did a little DIY, a little store shopping, and a whole lot of Pinterest.

And here are the photos! πŸ˜€

Not even going to lie, Hubby totally stole the show with his DIY cityscapes. I had seen a very simple cardboard one painted black on Pinterest, which I showed Hubby. But he was all, “Awww, come on, sweetheart, I want to use MAN tools, and some ARTISTRY!” I very wisely left him to it, and we ended up with this:

Mikey's 5th

Mikey's 5th

I mean…!!!! This is why I love him. One of the many reasons. πŸ˜‰

DSC_0242

While we’re at the table, I kept things very simple food-wise – chicken nuggets for the kids and wings for the adults, shrimp cocktail, a fruit platter (aka Captain America’s shield!), salsa & chips, and cupcakes for dessert. The cupcakes were (in my mind) a pretty ridiculous splurge for a kid party, but seeing all those kids go wild over them definitely justified it. Right? (Just say yes. Thank you.)

DSC_0244

I downloaded the Avengers birthday banner from Etsy and printed the comic words for free. I got the tablecloth, and blue streamy things at Party City, the cups from Target, and the yellow lanterns from Amazon. The Marvel hero figures Mikey had been collecting for a while, and got a couple more as birthday gifts.

DSC_0243

DSC_0253

DSC_0255

But wait, there’s so much more fun! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Mikey's 5th

I found these paper masks on Amazon, and threw in a couple plastic ones we already had. My aunt whipped up a whole bunch of superhero capes in various colors, so when the kids arrived, they chose their hero mask and cape for the party. (These doubled as favors, and they were a huge hit with the littles. Highly recommend if you’re ever doing a superhero party. They were wearing their capes for weeks afterward. haha) PS, yes, Hubby also made mini skyscapers out of shoeboxes. I.Cant.Even. ❀

In case you were wondering… yes, the Superheroes came to Mikey’s party!!! πŸ˜€

DSC_0286

Hubby had the brilliant idea to put on a robber mask and run into the party chased by the heroes, which was all very exciting and was reenacted several times over the rest of the day. πŸ˜›

DSC_0337

DSC_0289

I am sure there are people for “hire” to play characters at kid parties, but we were incredibly blessed by 3 friends offering to do it for Mikey… and putting on an absolutely epic performance. (Thank you all again. You’re wonderful!)

Some more party moments…

DSC_0363

DSC_0367

DSC_0411

DSC_0377

DSC_0390

DSC_0340

DSC_0348

DSC_0295

DSC_0359

DSC_0291

DSC_0401

DSC_0432

DSC_0372

DSC_0333

DSC_0479

DSC_0486

DSC_0439

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful day, full of precious memories and lots of happy faces. Like with so many things, I love that we all had as much fun with the process of creating as we did at the actual event. Happy, Happy Birthday, my baby boy. You might be “too old to say Mama now” (sniff sniff) but you will always be my baby! Mommy and Daddy love you! πŸ™‚

DSC_0265

xoxo, Anna

The One Thing I Need To Tell You

Β I knew I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t find the right words. I wanted to give you all the praise that you deserve, but it just wasn’t coming together the way I felt it in my heart. Then today, I was watching you play with the baby, and I realized the most important thing that needed to be said was something so very simple.

My love – thank you.

Thank you for being the father of my children.

Thank you for being so present in their lives, even when you cannot be physically here.

Thank you for letting them know, always, that you love them and that you LIKE them.

Thank you for showing our sons what it means to be a true man, in a world that seems to have forgotten how. In you, they have such a wonderful example of humor without buffoonery, gentleness without weakness, and always – honesty.

Thank you for showing our daughter what it means to be respected, loved, and admired. Believe me when I tell you there is no greater gift you will ever give her, and she will choose where she gives her heart more carefully, because YOU have set the bar so high.

Thank you for living and knowing your Faith, not just once or twice a year, but every day, and for showing our children, by example more than words, what it means to love God and neighbor.

The One Thing I Need To Tell You

Thank you for teaching our children the value and pleasure of working with your hands. It seems like such a small thing, and yet already I see our children learning to take pride in work well done, and that is such an essential lesson.

Thank you for the strength, the honor, and the dignity with which you carry yourself as an officer, despite the hell, the fear, the uncertainty, and the struggles. You are a man whose children will always be proud to call father, and that is something no criminal, no media outlet, no vicious agenda can take away.

Thank you for never being ashamed to love your children and to love being a father. They see it, they feel it – and they will remember it.

The One Thing I Need To Tell You

Thank you for all the little random things – the getting up in the night with a baby, the coffee, the way you never once flinched about changing a diaper, the creative games, the DIY toys, the “one more piggy back ride” when you were already exhausted. Thank you for wanting “a ton” of babies – and loving every one of them to pieces.

Thank you for being at my side and in my heart all along this parenting journey. Thank you for constantly saying and showing your appreciation for my role as your wife and their mother. Thank you for always reminding me that we are in this together, every step of the way.

Thank you for everything you are and everything you do.

The One Thing I Need To Tell You

We love you.

Happy Father’s Day!

xoxo, Anna