marriage

Random ReflectionsΒ 

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It’s rare that I get overly excited for New Year’s, but this year I definitely am. There is something beautiful about new beginnings, and while each new day can be that fresh start, a new YEAR is just that much more hopeful.

Excuse the rambling post this will probably be. I’ve started too many posts lately and then never hit publish. This one is going out there. I think. I guess we’ll see if it makes the cut! πŸ˜‚πŸ™ˆ

I was browsing through older posts of mine recently, and I had to laugh. The perky ease of mothering 2 children is no longer my life, and now, with 4 children in 6 years, there is no extra of me to spare. #morecoffeeplease 😘 At (almost) 31, I am not the person I was when I became a mother at 24, and I have no doubt that each year will bring new changes, both good and bad, to my life and to myself.

Living with intention has become paramount because the days, as long as they often seem, are flying by.

Parenting books and “philosophies” and catchy slogans have little use in the day to day of my mothering, but parenting with love and courage remains my goal.

Marriage this year was less flowers and romance, and more holding tightly to each other through days that seemed impossible. And then laughing about it. And then kissing. And then juggling bills and babies and diapers and jobs and schedules and meals and groceries and doctors. And then holding tightly again in love. Somehow, this year made me love him more.

Community, this last year and a half, has been a blessing I could not have imagined. There’s so much talk about a lack of real contact in our modern world, people isolating themselves, but in this little corner of the world I have found my tribe – this beautiful, caring community that lifts up and inspires.

Fulfilling the expectations of others matters little compared to the needs and happiness of the ones I love most, and letting go of those others is freeing.

Facing, accepting the past can be challenging, but it can lead to a beautiful present and future.

This year, I was reminded of how much words matter. If you see beauty, speak it. If you feel love, speak it. If you feel anger, sadness, loss – speak. Life is too short to stay silent or closed off.

The more open my heart becomes, the more vulnerable I feel. And yet the reward is that the very honesty which made me afraid to trust, is what now makes my relationships deeper and stronger.

Today and every day, I choose love, because whatever I may do wrong in this life, I will never regret love.

Here’s to 2017! 😁

xoxo, Anna

Today I Kissed My Love Goodbye

Today I kissed my love goodbye.

“Don’t forget your dinner!” “Do you have your gun and shield?” “Beep the horn for Lucas when you drive away!” “Come home safe!”

I kissed my love goodbye – and watched him walk away.

Every day.

All these years of practicing this same routine and it somehow has gotten harder instead of easier. That voice inside me wondering – was that the last time?

Was that the last time I’ll feel your lips pressed against mine and feel the strong, firm touch of your hands around me?

Was that the last time your children will yell “Bye, Dad! See you when you get here!” and wait for your return with their faces pressed against the window?

Will you be that faceless man who is called a hero for a week, and then slips from memory? Will I be that wife who is handed a folded flag, sobbing eyes hidden behind dark glasses, a chilling picture of both strength and heartbreak, whose children cling to her as their father is carried away?

I have seen that wife too many times in recent months. Each time it is the same. 

They call her husband a hero – but then they easily forget his sacrifice- and hers. While he is alive, they taunt him, doubt him, curse him – and then when he dies, they give speeches and try to honor his name.

This wife doesn’t want a dead hero. She wants the laughter and love of the man beside her. She wants the man who has seen inside her heart – and stayed to love her. She wants the man who catches her eye across a roomful of noisy littles and laughingly yells, “Hey, let’s take our coffee outside and call it a date!!” She wants that man, not a hero in the ground.

The days go by so quickly, but the nights are long. Those hours in the quiet darkness are a blessing and a curse, part of the endless push and pull of this life.

Today I kissed my love goodbye and while my lips spoke all the same mundane words, my heart called out: “Please don’t go. Today, don’t go. Stay here where you are safe, where you are loved.”

But I don’t say that.

I say: “Have a good night, dearest! Don’t forget your dinner! Come home safe!”

And then I kiss my love goodbye – and watch him walk away.

xoxo,

Anna

 

 

My Life In Pictures

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“My life in pictures.” 

I happened on that catchy hashtag while browsing Instagram one night, and now I always use it because it’s kind of perfect.

 There are many days that feel blurred together, so many conversations, responsibilities, and interactions. (I called to make an appointment for one child today and when they asked me for the birth date… my mind went totally blank. He’s my kid, I promise. I just have no idea when he was born. #oops. #truestory)

These days start early and end late and are filled to the brim of non-stop needs and to-dos. Every now and then I wonder if I’m still going to be me when this season is over or if I will be forever lost in the beauty and struggle of motherhood.

I sit in groups and see people easily conversing, but my eyes are always darting around the room, my ears are always halfway open to the sounds of my own children in the crowd.

 Mothering never turns off. There is no “clock in/clock out” for this job. The community in my life has grown larger, as I more deeply appreciate the loving “village” of fellow parents around me. Women (and men!)  who are focused and united in love not judgement; compassion, not pride; and understanding, not criticism. People who lift up.

The depth and the rich love of marriage has taken on a whole new meaning. There are days when I am humbled by the gentle example of loyalty and love in my husband. There are days we look at each other across the table of giggling, shrieking children and think, “Are we crazy?!?!” (We know – some of you have thought that about us, too!! Haha 😘) There are those little pockets of time when we are alone, no little hands tugging or voices questioning, and we can remember all that is beautiful about the US, separate from them. 

In the quiet of the night, I look at all the faces, all the memories, all the little pieces of my life in pictures, and I realize… it is good. 

It is everything I imagined – more.

And it is full of love. 

Xoxo, Anna

PS. Speaking of pictures, if you’re interested in an up-close-and-personal view πŸ˜‰, these days I post more frequently on Facebook and Instagram, so hop on over and join there, too!! Xoxo

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)Β  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

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.

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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 –Β  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. πŸ˜‰

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?

Β 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. πŸ˜› 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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ˜›

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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

We Know Who You Are

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The horrors you have seen, I can never take away. They are seared forever onto the heart so many people think you don’t have. The nightmares you have lived through have changed you, forever.

The people you have saved, do they remember you? Your uniform is a blessing and a curse. Forgotten so often, your name remembered only to be scorned.

You are more than what they call you. You are more than what they say. They see you and they see a uniform. They may never really know you. To them, you’re just another faceless man in blue.

Β But I will always know who you are.

You have love in your heart and courage in your soul. You are the man who dries my tears, who silences my self-doubt. You are the friend I turn to first – in good times and bad. You are the one who can always coax a laugh from me, even when I’m trying to stay mad at you. Yours are the hands that heal my pain, yours are the eyes that see me for who I am. You see me, and to you, I am enough. You have shown me love that I could have never imagined and passion that cannot be compared. The gift of being yours is the only one I will ever need.

My love, I know you.

Your children know who you are. You are their father, the first man in their lives and the most important. I see your hands become gentle whenever they are near; I hear your voice soften. I see the way you smile to yourself as you watch them play. You never tell them no to that “one more ride,” no matter how long your shift has been, or how heavy your heart. Your knowledge, your compassion, your strength of body and spirit – you are molding your sons and daughter every day by your example, and they will always know who you are.

The dark days will come, some worse than others, but remember this: the ignorant and the evil ones can mock, they can lie, they can accuse, they can scorn. But they can never take from you the things that matter most.

They cannot take your humanity and they cannot take the love from your heart.

Hold onto those. Hold on, even when it’s by the smallest thread. You are so much more than what they say.

You are a police officer.

We know who you are, and to us, you are everything!

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