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Only Good Is Here

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My heart has been so heavy these last few days.

I went through all the steps, but I honestly wasn’t feeling motherhood.

I wanted time to think, to grieve, to be. I wanted a few minutes alone. I needed to not be needed, just for a little while.

But… 4 kids.

4 kids too young to understand these feelings.

And then today I watched them playing, making “kid burritos” with a blanket, and their baby laughter soothed my heart.

Lost in play, so blissfully unaware of the things that adults find so important.

Life is simple. Love is simple.

There is only good here.

xoxo, Anna

Pray For Orlando – But Then Pray For This

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I will pray for Orlando. I will pray for France. I will pray for Syria, and Turkey, and Russia – and America.

I will pray for this world that will one day belong to our children.

I will pray for a world that is falling apart, a world that is blinded by ignorance and fueled by rage.

I will pray for a country left with an impossible choice between two evils. I will pray for it all.

But then I will pray for my own heart – because that is where it begins.

I will pray for the courage to do little things with great love.

I will pray for the wisdom to foster peace in my children, because those who do not know peace cannot bring it to others.

I will pray for the Love that only He can give. Hate is loud. Hate is boisterous. Love is quiet, but Love conquers all.

In the eyes of the world, we are powerless, you and I, in our little corners, living our little lives. But we are the world. Each of us, in some small way, brings light or darkness.

My hand will never sign national documents, but it will soothe my children and I will teach them gentleness.

My lips will never give great speeches that will rock a nation to its core, but they will speak words of love to my children. They are learning from me what love is.

My feet will never march bravely onto battlefields, but they will walk – silently – endlessly – giving, performing those thousand and one little tasks that make our house a home.

I will bring love here, I will bring peace here – and from here, it will go out into the world.

Hate is all around, but I believe in the good. I will always believe in the good.

It starts here. It starts now.

It begins with me.

xoxo, Anna

This Is Our Life

Every Moment

“Cherish every moment.” “Never go to bed angry.” “Always kiss goodbye.” “Think before you speak.” “Live in the present.”

Everyone has heard all that. So had I. I thought I was living by those words, and maybe I more or less was. It wasn’t until shortly after I was married, though, that I came to fully understand how important it all is.

The truth is, for any one of us, each moment could be our last. In a police family, that possibility is never abstract. It is starkly, sometimes painfully in the forefront of our lives, every minute of every day. On the one hand, it can and usually does create an emotional divide between those who “get it” and those who don’t. On the other hand, the uncertainty of this life has brought with it so many blessings in our family, our marriage, and for me as an individual.

It took us a little while to fully embrace what it meant to live this life together. It means sometimes saying no, even to people we love, because it is more important to say yes to each other. It means focusing on the present, and letting go of the past. It means fewer words, and more understanding. It means less debate and more Faith. It means fewer grudges and more forgiveness.

I was afraid our children would feel his absence, and they do, more often now as they get older… but they also feel his presence, because he always makes it count.

These summer days, we go to the beach on Monday evenings instead of weekends; we have brunch on the 4th of July instead of a bbq and see fireworks the week before; we go camping in the living room instead of in the mountains, but our family is making memories full of love, and our children are learning every day to be proud of their father and the sacrifices he makes.

For me, I would be lying if I said that my role as police wife has not shaken me to my core. It is so much more than what I expected, more in every way. It is more challenging, more stressful, more terrifying, more lonely. But it is also more loving, more generous, more precious, more strengthening.

Living this life has inspired me to step outside my comfort zone, over and over, only to find that my comfort zone is apparently much bigger than I’d thought. (I can kill my own spiders, people. Who knew! :P)  I used to focus too much on all the things I thought I should be doing. Now I focus on what I am doing, and I find it brings such peace.

Even in his absence, my husband is here. Knowing I am loved by him, and knowing that he feels my love for him – it makes this life much easier, not just to bear, but to treasure. I am learning, slowly but surely, to make every moment count, because this moment, right here, right now, is the only one that matters.

And so tonight I will keep my quiet vigil, listening for the sounds that comfort my waiting heart – his key in the lock, his boots on the stairs, his gun being placed on the bureau. His lips will press against mine and he will say the words he knows I need to hear: “I’m home.”

We are a police family. This is our life – and we cherish it. ❤

xoxo, Anna

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The One Thing I Need To Tell You

 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.

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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.

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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.

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We love you.

Happy Father’s Day!

xoxo, Anna

My Marriage Comes First – And My Kids Are Loved

My Marriage Comes First And My Kids Are Loved

An article popped up in my newsfeed last month, which the author began by saying she loves her husband more than her kids. I’m sure many of you saw it already. Half her audience was all “Yeah! Go you!” Half her audience was all mama-bear-offended saying that kids come first, no one matters more than the kids, and – my personal favorite – “my husband’s an adult, if he doesn’t like it, he can leave.”

Interesting.

The thought occurred to me as I kept coming across this type of comment, that while probably flippantly written as a knee-jerk reaction to the post, there is an element of truth to it for many people in our modern society. The kids come first.

On the one hand, of course, they do! Babies, toddlers, little ones – I currently have 3 kids ages 5/under, so I can speak first-hand about how much time, as well as physical and emotional energy is spent on them. I would imagine that is always the case. Older children present different challenges than littles, but the challenges are always there.

On the other hand, the kids, quite literally, did NOT come first. My husband did -our friendship, our love, our marriage, our vows to each other are the foundation on which we are raising our children, not the other way around. It is as important – dare I say, MORE important –  to my children’s character and emotional development to see love and respect modeled between their parents than to be raised in a world that revolves solely around them, a scenario from which they will one day be rudely awakened, since the world, in fact, does NOT revolve around them. 😉

It has become a focal point in our parenting together that our children be treated as fellow human beings, not as little monsters, not as inconveniences, but as people, capable of thought, feelings, good behaviors, not-so-good behaviors and always – positive change. This parenting philosophy, if you want to call it that, allows for each of us, children and adult, to play our roles in the family with appropriate respect due to each person. It also allows for our children to understand that they are not little kings and queens of our home, dominating over their parents, but that they are most certainly treasured and very much loved.

I will say, I do not love my husband MORE than my children. The love I have for my husband is a totally different love than the love I have for my children. There is no comparison and so there is no more/less. My love for my husband is full, complete and eternal. So is my love for my children.

In a way, the two loves just naturally go hand in hand. When we became parents, my love for my husband grew, exponentially, and in ways I could never have imagined. In the same way, my love for my children is strengthened and fortified by the love between me and my husband. To separate them is impossible.

That said… I do disagree with the idea that for 18 years (or more for many parents these days!), life is all about the kids, to the exclusion of all else. Our children are our happiness and pride, and we enjoy being parents to a ridiculous degree. (Don’t lie, some of you have already started the countdown for Baby #4. We know it. bwahaha) But we also love each other, we love our marriage, we love the bond between us that gives us that foundation for our family life. We believe, wholeheartedly, that our children learn more from our example than from our words, and what better way to teach them love, respect, friendship, Faith than by seeing it between the two people who matter most to them?

 My marriage comes first because of how much we truly love, value and honor each other. My marriage comes first because it is a promise, a solemn vow. My marriage comes first because by putting my marriage first, I become a better mother to our children. My marriage comes first because it encourages and allows my husband to be the strong and present father he is to our children.

My marriage comes first, not because I do not love my children, but because of how much I DO!

xoxo, Anna

Romance Took Us To NYC

May has been a bit of a blur over here, which I will attempt to catch you up on, bit by bit in the next week or so. Our baby boy turned 5 (!!!), police world was turned upside down on an almost daily basis, and in our own little family, major changes are taking place that have made me step back to adjust our routines and habits. In the midst of it all, my husband had a week home with us, a blessed break before the craziness of a police life summer, and as always, it seemed to end too quickly.

It occurred to me, not for the first time, that I sometimes take him for granted; that bogged down by daily obligations, meals, appointments, teaching, to-do lists, and oh-em-gee, that never-ending pile of laundry… I all too often forget to acknowledge the sheer wonderfulness that he brings to our home, our family, our marriage. I guess that’s an awful thing to admit. I should probably be all, “No waaay, you guys, I love my hubs and I tell him ALL THE TIME how amazing he is and how much I appreciate him.” But the thing is, I don’t – not nearly as often as he deserves. Our children have made our marriage stronger and more loving – and they have also made it more important to be intentional in our attention to each other. It is too easy, especially with my husband’s schedule, to let a day go by without those precious moments and exchanges that we treasure in our relationship.

Overall, I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, only because, any day can be a new day, a new beginning, and that is kind of my life philosophy in a nutshell. haha However, this year, we decided to make a “marriage” resolution, to try new places and things together. I know. Tell me how epic and original we are. Go ahead. I’ll wait. 😛 But in all seriousness, it was/is important to us that, as much as we love and cherish all our babies, we didn’t get so immersed in baby life that we forgot to do the many amazing grownup experiences we enjoy together.

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Because everything needs to look cute and have a label, we made “date jars,” one for daytime dates, and one for nighttime dates. The idea is, depending on whether we have day or night time out, we close our eyes, pick a paper and – GO! It gives an air of spontaneity without having to be fully spontaneous, which can be a daunting task as a parent of many littles. #amiright As usual, I stole this idea from Pinterest. The great thing is, you can literally put anything you want in, depending on your budget, interests, time frame, etc. We love it. Go get you some date night jars, lovebirds. 😉

I didn’t actually think about recording our little romantic adventures until I asked for more date ideas on Facebook, and one of my friends suggested I blog about it as we go. I probably won’t blog every one, but I thought it was a fun idea, and will definitely be keeping some for the records. 😉

This one was a must-share, since it was planned, start to finish, by my husband. He set up an overnight in New York City, and it was heavenly. We have always loved the city and used to spend many date nights there, something we have not done as much of lately, which made it a perfect choice for a close-to-the-babies-but-still-away trip.

You guys, stop for a minute and consider the awesomeness of not having to think about anything at all for 2 days. Are you feeling as relaxed as I felt? Wonderful. Here are some photos.

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(I told you I was feeling relaxed. This was from the first few minutes inside our hotel room. I didn’t even take off my shoes. #momoflittles #sleepisaluxury)

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Our hotel had a private garden across the street. And I do mean private. We needed the door attendant to let us in and then we needed to call him to let us back out. It was mildly thrilling and quite definitely amusing. Also, it was beautiful in there – a little world apart in the middle of the city noise!!

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My husband is the reason I fell in love with photography. Not like we’re pros or anything, but I love so much seeing the world in a different way. Capturing faces; moments; real-life, genuine interactions… seeing it all as so much more than a posed group of smiling faces – although those are good, too! 😉 To be honest, I’m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it… except when Trevor is the photographer. ❤

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The Village Vanguard! Ahhh! So fun. For those of you that don’t know, my husband is a huge jazz fan, and actually played saxophone for many years. (Beautifully, I might add. I miss it. Hint hint.)

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(Side note… I never know where to LOOK for a selfie. Is this just me?! How do all these people look right where they’re supposed to! Anyways. Moving on. bwahaha)

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True story: we had big plans to sleep till noon because we were kid-free and whooo hoooo sleep. Ha. I woke up at 7 am (totally missing the babies like crazy, if I’m being honest haha), and Hubby woke at 8:30. So… we found an uber touristy 80’s themed diner and had breakfast… followed by some city strolling and antics. 😛

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I would like to dedicate the next several photos to my sister-in-love, Jenn, because she completely understood the importance of me texting her pics of these fabulously funky hotel lights in the middle of a romantic getaway. #thegirlappreciatesgoodlighting

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Our last stop was Eataly, and if you are ever in NYC, you really need to try it! The market is huge and fascinating, and the cooking class/dinner was just wonderful. Hubby and I tried our best, but quickly fell into our old college habit of sitting near the back and passing flirty notes. Oops.

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  Have any of you tried a date jar, or any version of it? Do you have any date suggestions for me? Bonus points for romantic ideas that are low-budget or free! Bring on the love, people! ❤

xoxo, Anna

Do You Know?

Hubby had vacation! 8 gloriously free days with no tours, extra tours, mandatory extra tours, training or surprise schedule changes. We had one big goal for this vacation – to spend meaningful time together – and we did just that, all week long.

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It’s always amazing to have him home. The freedom, the slower pace, the uninterrupted meals together – all things I took for granted years ago. Now, when his schedule puts him home during our kids’ most active hours of the day, it is a constant challenge to find (or make!) time for us to bond. This week, I cherished every minute with him, and it was so, so hard to hear that door close behind him today.

Tonight, it is back to business as usual. He is gone. The babies are sleeping. The house is quiet.

My heart is at peace.

This winter was a difficult one, to say the least. The weather that kept us shut in, the weeks of sick kids, the heightened tension in police life, various things… it had all built up inside, and I didn’t even realize how much until my body started telling me what I’d tried hard to ignore.

This week, I pushed restart on my priorities, my emotions, my heart.

We sat together around the table one night; the babies laughing and squealing and performing their antics. Every now and then I would look up, and catch Hubby’s eyes on me, those eyes that have never lost their gentleness, despite everything they’ve seen. Usually it is I who want to make sure he knows how loved he is, how respected and appreciated, but in these days, I saw it often in his face. That question: do you know?

As wives and mothers, it can be too easy to forget ourselves amid the cares and responsibilities of our family life. The work is never done, the balance is a constant struggle, and at the end of the day, it can sometimes feel like we ran in circles and have nothing to show for it. Do we know how much it matters, how much they care, how much they love us?

At the end of his last night home, my husband decided to “whip up” a homemade dessert that looked as fabulous as it tasted. I went to give him a thank you kiss, but instead he took my face in his hands and this time he asked me with words: Anna, do you know how much I love you?

Oh, dearest. Oh course I know. Your love is everywhere around me – in the way you look at me, in the strong hearts of our children, in the safety of our home, in the meals you love to cook, in the work you do so faithfully, and the touch of your body against mine.

I know how much you love me. Always.

And I love you, too. ❤

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xoxo, Anna

Mommy, Watch This!

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Mommy, do you see me?

Mommy, look at me!

Mommy, watch this!

Some little voice is always calling. Little hands are always pulling. Not just my body but my heart is tugged in so many different directions.

Sometimes the day ends, and I wonder where it went.

Sometimes the hours drag by, and it becomes a waiting game till it’s dark enough to call it bedtime.

Finding the balance is my constant challenge. Wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister… there are so many hats to wear, and sometimes I worry that I’m wearing none of them well.

Is it possible to be everything I want to be for them? Will they remember me and know my love?

Mommy, do you see me?

I do, my babies, I see all of you.  I see you playing together as I hurry by to finish that laundry or pack up Daddy’s dinner.  I see you while I feed you, while I dress you, while I brush those teeth and wash the hands that still seem impossibly small.  I see you when we read your favorite stories, and your eyes light up. I see the way you help your sister, using words we taught you, and seeing you then makes everything worth while.  I see you making the baby laugh, I see your spirit and your independence, that fire in you that I hope will never be dimmed. I see you, my not-so-tiny-anymore son, with a personality so calm and gentle, and I wonder what you will be like as you grow.

Mommy, watch this!

For a while, I was saying “just a minute,” and then I’d forget to go back. Did they remember? Maybe not. But I do. So now I stay. A minute spent on them means so little and yet so much.

They say that children often don’t remember, and maybe that’s true. They might not remember the toddler outings, the field trips, the activities. They don’t remember the long nights, the tears shed, the aching arms that carried them for hours when they were sick.

But they remember love. They remember how they felt, even when they cannot remember what was done. They remember how it was said, more than what was said.

This is their childhood. These are their memories.

I want them to remember love.

Mommy, watch this!

I am, my babies, I am. Watching, learning, remembering… loving all of you.

xoxo, Anna

A Different Perspective

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As a police family, the last couple months have been harder than usual. The riots, the anger, the hatred, the very real threat of physical harm always before our eyes. The nights, always full of worry, have become pure torture. People I respected have shown the bigotry and ignorance within them, and it hurts so badly. The loneliness can be consuming. How does one explain what it feels like? What words can possibly describe what it does to my heart, sending him out each night, not knowing if I will ever see him again?

Then, in the midst of it all, a reader wrote to me:

“You talk a lot about how you aren’t the perfect couple/life, but the fact is, even to people like me who know the struggles, we envy you. Because the real reason people think you’re perfect isn’t because you’re pinteresty it’s because you’re real. And intense. And in love. And you know what that’s magical. So whatever. To you, maybe it seems normal. But to the rest of us, you guys are what keep us going. Because we believe in you and we believe we can be like you someday.”

I didn’t know what to say. I doubt the person knew how much that message meant to me that night. It brought a smile to my face and peace to my heart.

In the end, I can’t keep the hate or the danger away from him, but I can and I will fill his home with love. I will relish every moment we have together, whether it be for 70 more years or 70 more hours.

I am his. He is mine.

Despite the fear and the struggles, that makes this life worth living.

It does, in the end, make it magical.

xoxo, Anna

What’s New With You?

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This time of year always ends up being so active around here, and the days have been flying by. Every now and then someone asks me, “What’s new with you?” and I often don’t know how to respond.

My son has changed from toddler to boy overnight, it seems. His facial expressions, his mannerisms, even his sense of humor – classic little boy now, not so much baby. When did it happen? Suddenly he repeats conversations he hears on outings or among family, and asks “Why?” “Who?” He always wants to know. And I don’t always have an answer. That’s new.

My daughter looked me in the eye last week, and told me “Ellie do it, not Mama.” I was proud. Her independence and her spirit are wonderful qualities that I treasure. But for just one tiny second, I was sad, picturing a time when there would be much harder things I’d have to let her do on her own. That was new.

My baby found his voice. He yells, he calls for attention, and he laughs hysterically. When Mikey walks in the room, he starts dancing with excitement. They are such buddies already. That’s new.

My husband had a week off this month, which despite the kids being sick, was quite lovely. When we first became friends, and then started dating, we spent hours (literally) just talking to each other, getting to know each others true selves, and sharing thoughts, dreams, plans beyond all the empty small talk so prevalent in society these days. It’s one of the hardest things about his night schedule – day time conversation is much trickier with three littles running around. But this week, we relished our every moment together, talking, loving, being. It wasn’t exciting. It was perfect. That was new.

But often the “new” things that happen in this quiet life are not things easily shared. Sometimes it’s a passing thought, one random skill my child mastered, a slight rearranging of home or routine that made our family more comfortable.

The other day, all 3 kids were sick, the kitchen was torn apart, a million little things seemed off, and I felt overwhelmed. Trevor walked over to me, put his hands around my face. “Stop. Sweetheart, what do you need?”

Such a simple offer. But when the quiet of the evening came, my mind went back to his words.

What do I need?

I need the hearts of my babies to grow strong and loving in the midst of a superficial, violent world. I need the walls of our home to provide our family with a sanctuary from all the troubles which we cannot control, and cannot change. I need the richness and beauty of my Catholic Faith, with all the depth it has added to my heart and to my marriage. I need the unswerving love of the strongest, truest man I have ever known, and I need him to be always certain that here, by his wife and his children, he is respected, he is honored, and he is so very, very loved.

I guess, in the end, there isn’t anything I need – everything I need is right here.

That’s what’s new.

But I don’t say that.

I just say, “Oh, not much. What’s new with you?”

xoxo, Anna