Things I Love, Big and Small

I love making lists.

I love when my slippers match my hoodie and joggers. I love nicknames, Harry Potter, painted toenails, raw cookie dough, and soft skin.

I love the curls of steam that rise from a hot cup of coffee.

I love when he lets me put my cold hands under his shirt.

I love how, when I sit down with a cozy blanket, our dog seems to know and she finds me.

I love that I get filled with the warm fuzzies of fondness and affection whenever I think of some of my college professors. I love that I still keep in touch with a handful of them.

I love vulnerability and authenticity.

I love my youngest daughter’s curly, untamed hair.

I love the freckles on my shoulders and on oldest daughter’s nose and cheeks. (I wish she loved them too.)

I love singing “Amazing Grace” with a room full of people.

I love summer days that are 72 degrees with a light wind and I love autumn days that are 52 degrees with sunshine after a heavy rain.

I love the smell of a library.

I love rainbows that stretch across the sky when rain and sun collide.

I love honesty, even when it hurts.

I love, on the days when I am unreasonably irritable and demanding and emotional, he holds my hands in his own and looks me in the eyes and says, “I love you.” I love feeling seen, known, and understood.

I love forgiveness.

I love to give gifts even more than I love to receive them and I especially love when it’s an over-the-top surprise that they never saw coming.

I love that it’s our policy not to kill spiders in our house. I love my love for animals and that my kids have inherited (or learned?) that kind of love too.

I love massages.

I love connecting with random strangers about random things, like the rain we’re both trying to get out of, or the child who won’t stop screaming, or simply because I did something nice like hold open the door for them.

I love adding songs to my next birth playlist, just in case there’s ever another birth.

I love dreaming, imagining, hoping, planning. Praying.

I love how my oldest son and daughter will do a deep dive into subjects that fascinate them, like Greek mythology and spiders and dinosaurs.

I love grumpy old people and mischievous toddlers.

I love babies in sweaters and winter hats.

I love that strawberry jam, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday make me think of one friend in particular.

I love hearing my husband laughing aloud at what he’s watching on YouTube while he does the dishes. (I love that he does the dishes.)

I love birth photography and black and white images and the contrast of shadows and light.

I love stories about second chances, and unrequited love, and overcoming the odds. I love stories that make me weep.

I love when he calls me “babe.”

I love that my kids love the candied sweet potatoes from my childhood.

I love how my heart leaps when I unexpectedly see a Steller’s Jay in our backyard, beautiful blue wings against the backdrop of a forest of evergreens.

I love new friends who feel like old friends and old friends who never feel new, even with years and miles between us.

I love flannel sheets and flannel shirts.

I love how our “baby,” newly walking, toddles around like an unstable drunk man. I love that when he falls down (which he does, often), he gets right back up with a huge smile on his face and just keeps going.

I love the mullet that forms when a toddler’s hair grows faster in the back than on top.

I love roses and how, when the wind blows, you can smell the ones growing in our yard.

I love long, dangly earrings.

I love maxi dresses and sweaters that slip off my shoulder and cute boots and cropped jackets.

I love my 8-year-old’s long lashes, gigantic eyes, and how she’s never met a stranger. She loves everybody and will say hello to anyone and I often think, I wish I could be more like that.

I love buffalo plaid everything – sheets, scarves, oven mitts, slippers, pillows, purses, paperclips. Everything.

I love a fireplace flickering in a dark room.

I love hospitals and airports.

I love Hawaiian sunsets.

I love a British accent.

I love passion fruit and pickles and eating a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips.

I love Indian food.

I love winter sunshine and summer rain, big hugs, sledding with my kids, reunions, hot showers, and the smell of baking cinnamon.

I love the sound of birds singing on an early morning walk.

I love every doughnut ever made as long as it doesn’t have bacon on it.

I love when I put my hair into a messy bun just right and I look cute-messy and not hot-mess-messy and not old-lady-messy.

I love how our 6-year-old is almost always half-naked when he’s at home and how his laughter can’t be contained.

I love when his little sister comes upstairs after waking up and says in her sweet little voice, “Good moaning, Mommy.”

I love people who surprise me, who make me want to do better, who challenge me, who question me, who take no prisoners and get shit done. I love people even though I also really really love to be alone.

I love silence.

I love lines on a carpet left behind by a vacuum.

I love old houses, old cities, and ghost stories.

I love telling people I have 15 siblings. I love knowing I have 15 siblings after nearly a lifetime spent as an only child.

I love hills that are alive with the colors of autumn.

I love being pregnant and the anticipation and hope of a new life, a future that has just barely begun.

I love newborn babies. I really love newborn babies curled and asleep on my chest, their warm weight, their indescribable but delicious smell.

I love nursing newborn babies a few minutes before dawn, just as the sky starts to lighten. I also love nursing newborn babies next to a twinkling Christmas tree in the middle of the night.

I love how a tween can seem so grown up one minute and, the next, she is playing “bad babies” on the floor with her siblings. I love that she still needs me.

I love Philippians 4:13 and always have.

I love laughing uncontrollably, until my stomach hurts and tears pour down my cheeks.  I love having someone to laugh with. I love people who make me laugh.

I love how, when my 3-year-old has nothing to play with in her carseat, she makes her fingers or her feet talk to each other.

I love dirty chai tea lattes.

I love dusty rose pink, mustard yellow, and olive green.

I love London and how I always feel at home there. I love Australia and all its wonder and mystery. I think I love Ireland and Africa and one day I will find out for sure.

I love the vastness of the ocean and how I always feel in conversation with God when I stand on the shore.

I love friends who text me randomly to say, “Hey, how are you?” or “I’ve been thinking of you,” or “This reminded me of you.”

I love the smell of onions and peppers cooking in a frying pan.

I love that, even as I approach forty, I am still the apple of my mama’s eye and she tells me I’m her “hero” because I do things she would never even dream of.

I love how safe I feel when I fall asleep with his hand on my hip.

I love a good lens flare. I love buttery golden light and bokeh.

I love reading writing that makes me swoon and feeling inspired to write for the first time in a long time.

I love being appreciated and I love being loved. I love being grateful.

I love that there are countless things to be grateful for and that this list is really just the beginning.

(This post was inspired by Ashlee Gadd and Katie Blackburn.)

He Never Wanted to Be a Dad

He never wanted to be a dad.

I wanted to be a mom, and he loved me, so he came along for the ride. But he never wanted to be a dad.

He didn’t have that internal longing like I did to have children of his own. His arms didn’t ache to hold a baby. He had no drive to pass on his genes. He didn’t dream of teaching his son to ride a bike or of being the knight in shining armor to his daughter. He didn’t envision a house full of kids and a heart overflowing with love.

And yet.

Look at him as he rolls around on the floor with them. Look at him as he sips his coffee and reads them a book, flanked on either side and with two on his lap. Look at him as his eyes well up when our oldest daughter finally meets the Disney princess she loves the most. Look at him as he gets down on his knees and looks them in the eye and says, “I love you so much.” Look at him.

Look at him as he beams with pride when one of our daughters reads us the story that she has crafted. Look at him as he patiently lets our little boy use the hammer, and the drill, and the wrench, even though everything could be done so much faster if he didn’t have those little hands helping. Look at him as he tosses the baby into the air and they both collapse into a fit of giggles. Look. At. Him.

You would never know he never wanted to be a dad.

He never wanted to be a dad, but he is, and he’s the best kind. He’s the kind who shows up. To the awards assemblies and parent-teacher conferences. To the midnight stomach upsets and bedwettings. To the Christmas programs and ballet practices. To the diaper blowouts and tantrums. He shows up when they want to tell him the plot of their favorite book (even though he already knows it) and when they want to put on a song and dance performance from the coffee table (for the 78th time). He shows up when they have broken toys, broken bones, and broken hearts. He always shows up.

Ten years and four kids ago, he never wanted to be a dad. But a decade later, we have a nest full of baby birds and I’m thanking God for leading me to this man, for allowing me to choose him to be the dad to the children I dreamed of having. Every time I witness the way that he engages with them, loves them fiercely, fights for them, offers patience and understanding that I can’t muster in the moment, I fall more in love with him. For all the doubt and uncertainty that he had as we began this journey, I know that there is only one thing that matters now.

He may have never wanted to be a dad. But. But I think a dad is what he was always meant to be. And I couldn’t love him more for being the one that he is.