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Mar 21, 2012

Moments I Never Dreamed

I was just looking through some old Facebook photos of the kids when they were baby babies. Lena, a perfect tiny newborn sleeping a lot and smiling even more and Sam, an ornery sweet fat-cheeked baby boy.

Thinking about how much life has changed since they arrived a few short years ago is overwhelming me at the moment. These precious gentle souls have brought us so much joy and so many smiles and laughs. (They have both also taken me to the brink of sanity on many occasions, but parents don't linger on those teetering times.)

I know most parents feel all gushy and mushy about their kids, but Sam and Lena are lucky enough (though I'm sure they'll put a different spin on that with their therapists) to have an extra sensitive, extra gushy mushy mom. Like this morning when I was rolling around on the floor with Sam kissing him goodbye 100 times, holding him close and trying to memorize the sound of his laugh and the way his face looked at that moment. Or last night when I sang Lena six songs before bed because I didn't want our sweet bedtime ritual to end and because she was hugging me so tight and patting me on the back while I sang.

I'm a great big gushy mess.

Reconciling that we never planned on having kids with the fact that now we have two kids sometimes still feels like an adjustment, even all these years later, though usually in a good way. I think it makes me more appreciative of Sam and Lena and the little moments that can go unnoticed as they fly by so quickly. Because I was never expecting those moments. I never dreamed of them like so many women do. I never dreamed that two tiny little people could send me veering into a paradigm shift by batting their big blue eyes or giggling their funny little laughs or holding my hand with their chubby little baby fingers...

So sometimes they just catch me by surprise, these precious moments I never dreamed. Sometimes they stop me dead in my tracks and make me wonder how I got so blessed.

Mar 19, 2012

From Feigning to Feeling

While I was singing with the band at church yesterday, I wasn’t quite present. My mind wasn’t in its usual joyful place. It was wandering and tired and waning. I was struggling to focus and get myself into the music. I just felt off. And I’m sure my performance reflected that.

As we sat down to listen to the sermon, I whispered to our drummer, Mike, that I just wasn’t feeling it, that it felt forced. He just looked at me sympathetically like, yeah, I’ve been there before.

I, truthfully, was only half-listening to the sermon. I was busy praying for God to help me focus and shake the distracted, tired, negative place I’d slipped into that morning, the place that was keeping me from worshiping. As I was praying, a scripture I’ve read many times popped into my head. Matthew 16:23, when Jesus says:

…”Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I know that my not-so-religious, agnostic, and atheist friends will think this sounds fanatical and zealous, but I have prayed that prayer many times when my mind or actions go to dark or ambivalent places. “Devil, get thee behind me”. And I tell you what, it works every time. Because, while I hold myself completely accountable for my stupid mistakes and dangerous thoughts, as a Christian I would be ignorant not to acknowledge the fact that a very real and active Satan tempts and torments me every day, trying his hardest to keep me from God.

The prayer worked again yesterday. Pastor Mike’s words began to come through loud and clear, particularly when he played a clip from “The Passion of the Christ” where Pilate asked the crowd to choose to release the murderer, Barabbas or Jesus, who stood there beaten and bloody and sinless. I thought, that’s the God I’m worshipping today - that peaceful, selfless, merciful God who stood there in that moment as a man, with emotions and fears and a broken heart as his children condemned him to die the cruelest of deaths, who was probably angry and tormented and disappointed in us beyond comprehension, yet who loved us in spite us ourselves. And I’m sure I’ll get another eye roll from my not-so-religious, agnostic, and atheist friends at this, but I felt God’s Spirit all around me then.

We went back up to do our last song, "Your Love Never Fails", and I felt the words to my core. I was in it. I was full of God’s spirit. As I sang: “And when the oceans rage, I don't have to be afraid, because I know that You love me. Your love never fails”, tears came to my eyes and I couldn’t sing the last phrase. I got it together for the rest of the song, but I have rarely been that moved during worship. It was powerful.

Because in that moment, I was in that crowd condemning Christ to die. I was dismissing him, drowning in my selfishness, my fear, my shame. I did that to him just as surely as they did on that dark day in history.

Yet he continues to love me and forgive me. I'm his child. He's my father. He will never fail me no matter how many times I fail him. That’s undeniably awesome.

Thanks, God, for hearing your kid ask for help yesterday and sending some down.

Mar 14, 2012

Sam is "Gwoing Up"

Sam has been doing a lot of responsible things lately without being prompted. He brings vitamins up to Lena every morning when I'm dressing her, he helps her take off her shoes, he feeds Miles, he lets Henry out when he rings the bell, he's very interested in brushing his teeth (thanks to a lesson at school about it). When I praise him for doing these things, he says this to me:

"Tanks (thanks), Mommy. I'm a big boy now - I'm gwoing (growing) up!"

To which I smile and sigh, because he is growing up...way too fast in my opinion. Excuse me while I bust out in virtual song for a moment, hearkening back to "Fiddler on the Roof"...

Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older. When did they?

This is Sam's very first school photo. He really is gwoing up.

Mar 13, 2012

Winter Blues No More

I'm like a bear in the winter. I hibernate. I'm lazy, tired, grouchy...and lazy. Maybe it's light deprivation, but it seems to run deeper than that. Regardless, other than loving me a white Christmas, I loath winter.

So as soon as spring days start to overwhelm cold wintry ones, when buds start to decorate tree branches, when daffodils perk up their buttery yellow heads, when the birds' songs are carried through my open windows on a warm breeze, when wild onions start popping up everywhere, when the sun warms the side of my face as I walk outside with the dog; then I wake up.

I immediately need to clean, air out the house, cook a wonderful meal, listen to Don Henley in the car, and take walks. A little bounce returns to my step, my smile becomes easier, I see God absolutely everywhere I look. Not only does the sun wake up my personality and productivity, but it warms my soul and reminds me who I am.

I am my favorite self in the springtime.

So I'm finally awake today. And it feels amazing! It's 70 degrees. On March 13th. Say what? I don't know how or why, but I'll take it.

While Sam was a school today, Lena and I did laundry, started an amazing slow-cooked pasta bolognese sauce, dusted, vaccumed (Hazel, our iRobot Roomba, handled the upstairs for me), watered plants, brushed Henry, hung up some of the kids artwork, cleaned the kitchen. And when we got home the kids ate a big hot lunch, I cleaned up the kitchen (again), did some more laundry and we walked Henry before rest time.

The pasta is bubbling away and the windows are all open...the house smells awesome. And I feel incredible.

Thanks spring, for showing up early and kicking my winter blues right out the door.

Mar 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This year was a special birthday for Mom. Her first birthday as a cancer survivor.

Mom was diagnosed nearly a year ago with stage 1 breast cancer. Through surgery, a wonderful doctor and compassionate nurses at the James, a wonderful radiologist in Cambridge, and her faith and determination; she kicked her cancer's ugly ass.

Last year she was also diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, which was causing her terribly severe face pain. Now, with the help of a doctor who finally listened and some strong medication, she's kicking it's ass too.

Go Mom! It's your birthday!

I'm not listing the struggles she's endured to relive the last painful year. She'll probably be upset with me that I even posted them. And that I cursed, but that one she's probably pretty used to by now.

Listing them is meant to show what a strong, faithful and determined woman my mom is. She went through a lot in her 64th year, and came out on the other side with a clean bill of health and a stronger faith. She also came out on the other side of 64 with a new role in life - a pillar of strength and empowerment and hope for women in her community who are battling cancers of their own. And there are unfortunately a lot of them.

Mom is an incredible Christian woman who exercises the gifts God gave her every moment of every day. She embraces life, listens to God's guidance and touches everyone around her. I'm so proud of her grace and moxie. I'm so proud to call her my mom.

Here are some photos of the awesome afternoon we spent with her and Dad yesterday celebrating this special birthday.

Mom and Lori - both looking beautiful in the warm sunshiny day!

Mom opening her birthday present - tickets to see Barry Manilow!

Lena and Grant snacking on chips.

Dad and Lena swinging together.

Mom and her two oldest grandsons.

Dad pushing Sam and Lena on the swings.

More swinging.

Mar 9, 2012

Catching Up...Again

Has it really been almost a month since I've posted? My mind has been so cluttered and all over the place lately, even if I would have attempted a blog post, it most likely would have turned out a convoluted mess.

I blame Stephen King.

What little capacity for organized thought I've had over the past few weeks has been occupied by his latest book, 11/22/63. I could not put it down. I lost hours of sleep, fed my family mediocre meals and even neglected my kids on several occasions to absorb just a few more pages. And there were a lot of pages to absorb. Around 850. But it was an awesome read. None of the nightmarish terror found in a lot of his books, such as Duma Key, which is still lying half read under my nightstand. 11/22/63 is just him at his best with all his amazing character development, perfect pacing, page-turning thrills and just a few creepy moments to really pull you in. It has become one of my favorite books. Dare I write - maybe thee favorite.

Regardless, onto catching up on the Cole family's goings-on.

A few weeks ago it was so nice outside after church one Sunday that we decided to take the kids to the zoo. It was sunny and warm(ish)...well, it was around 45 degrees, but the weeks leading up to that had been so cold that 45 degrees seemed semi-sweltering to us. We layered and bundled and had a great time. It started snowing as we were leaving, which made for a cozy ride home in our warm car with two exhausted kids.

Good times.

A couple weeks after that, it was another sunny warm-ish day, so we decided to take our first trip to the Franklin Park Conservatory. It is one of my new favorite places to go. I want to set up permanent residence in the back room with the fountain and the beautiful green plants and trees - I think it's called the Palm House. It was so warm and bright and colorful and tropic in that room, it reminded Rich and I of our free honeymoon trip to Maui nearly 9 years ago.

The kids loved the place, too. The talking parrot scared the hell out of them, but it was funny watching their little brains trying to comprehend a real-life talking animal.

After spending a long morning there, visiting rooms and eating lunch, we wandered outside where it had warmed up enough for the kids to play on the playground behind the conservatory. We will be going back there soon. And often. It is the best cure for my annual winter blues.

I have much more to blog about, but no need to ramble on. I'll save those boring, rambling, brain picking posts for another day.