The Empty Corner

 

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We raced our bikes for hours. Two bad-ass little 9 year old girls still all long limbs and confidence. Nothing beat out of us yet, we were free from body hate and helicopter parenting wasn’t invented yet so our parents pushed out the door to exercise those long limbs in the sun as we screamed with laughter and our muscles felt joy at working and nothing else.

She lived on a double cul de sac. Two circles at either end, slightly elevated and the middle connecting section slightly lower. It was essentially the world’s best place to live if you liked to race figure eights for hours. We did. Race all morning, come in for lunch, race all afternoon. A little boy our age and grade also lived there and though his name was Brian we called him Booger. I’ve no recollection as to why, but I’m certain we owe him an apology.  We had spent the early morning torturing Booger and not letting him play with us, so it was after lunch that as we raced our bikes in faster and faster figure eights we noticed a large rubber spider on the road, in our path.

Booger. We thought. It would be just like a boy to put a big rubber nasty spider in our way thinking it would scare us. Boys are so lame. But we were scared. Pick it up, my friend said, we will ring the doorbell and toss it at him. You pick it up, I shot back. I was never a big fan of things with many legs, especially ones the size of an avocado. This went on for a while as we stood there in the sun, staring down at the spider, straddling our bikes, contemplating.

It’s belly looks like it’s moving! She said. Must be melting, I responded. Then, for some reason I reached a toe, newly clad in grey Nike tennies with a pink swoosh, out toward the spider and gently touched it. It was instantaneous, it appeared as if the abdomen peeled and baby spiders were everywhere. It was a swarm. I mean within a split second they covered the street and were on our bikes and legs.

This was no rubber spider. Booger had been notoriously wronged. He was not the culprit. We dropped our bikes and ran screaming back to her house at the other end of the crazy 8 racetrack where her father, hearing our screams met us at the door, took one look at us teeming with baby spiders and immediately turned the hose on us. In the sunlight it appeared as if the road undulated with a million spiders moving and crawling over the entire section. Our bikes were covered. I’m certain this is an exaggeration of memory, but I am also certain If I were polygraphed on this, it would read true.  Her father bravely rescued the bikes as her mother wrapped us in towels and ushered us into a nice warm shower and gave us clean clothes and then made popcorn. Our bikes met the same fate with the garden hose as we did and were none the worse for wear.

There is a Daddy Long Legs that took up residence in a high corner of my bathroom almost a year ago. She is small and barely moves, though I assume she is getting enough to eat. (I’ve assigned her sex as female as she is in my bathroom!)  For some reason, I feel fondly towards this little spider, despite my abject fear. I check on her in the morning. There she is and oddly it makes me smile. She is alone, I guess spiders don’t have friends over much, and sometimes, despite myself- knowing it is insane- I say good morning little spider! I hope you had a good night and ate some yummy bugs! I’ve no explanation for feeling a connection to a Daddy Long Legs just kicking it in a ceiling corner, but she makes me happy. I know, crazy.  She is part of my daily routine, and her presence is calming and happy.

She’s gone. She’s simply vanished, probably having reached the end of her natural life span though I’ve found no evidence of her demise. One day she just wasn’t there. Every morning I look for her and nothing. That corner seems so empty. My heart misses her. It’s silly and strange, but the world is so crazy right now I looked forward to that consistency I guess. That tiny little creature, just hanging out. Living. And if she could hear and understand she would probably say “Hey, crazy lady. You know you’re saying good morning to a spider, right?”

I miss a spider.

Life is weird.

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree.

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I fucking hate The Giving Tree. Like I haaaaaate it, you guys.  I truly think that Tree is partly responsible for the downfall of society. Controversial statement, I know. Stick with me..

So, The Boy is all I want this and I want that and I’m bored and I’m tired and I want mooooooooore. And The Tree is like sleep in my shade, eat my apples, take my leaves, my branches! Chop me down! My life doesn’t matter! And The Boy is like YES!  Then The Boy/Rude Man Baby is like Oh! I am so weary! and The Tree is happy to offer up her GRAVE. Come and rest upon my rotten bones! I am so desperately happy that you threw me this scrap of attention, even though you forgot my birthday and you never call. I am so glad you are here!

And the Man Baby is…asleep.

And The Tree was happy.

No. No Rude Man Baby. No.

I believe in sacrificing for my kids. I left my sister and newborn nephew and moved all the way across the country because Maryland is a better place to raise children that Los Angeles.

I lived with my in-laws on PURPOSE for probably longer than we should have because it was best for my son.

While my children are adorably coordinated in Gap Kids and Gymboree, I buy my clothes at the same store I buy my groceries.

We go without so our kids can have more. We want them to have better lives, easier lives, isn’t that the goal? But do we have to sacrifice ourselves into nothingness? And is that what’s best for our children?

It’s not that I don’t understand where The Tree is coming from, I want to give my kids everything. I want to put them in a happy bubble where whatever they want or need is immediately given to them and they never know disappointment or worse, pain.

But when my kids lose their left shoes (why is it always the left shoe?) almost every morning before school, my heart wants to tell them “hold on sweethearts! Mommy will find it, everything will be okay”. But I don’t. Because, no. I say ” where did you leave it last? This is why we have these baskets at the front door. When you take your shoes off, just toss them in the basket and you’ll know right where they are!” I say this every day, possibly for the next few years, because I know if they remember that I casually mentioned that I might take them to ToysRUs this weekend eventually they will remember to put their shoes in the basket.

Here is where my inner Tree monologue gets a little conflicted. I know it’s hard to be young, there is so much to learn but OMG every morning with the shoes! The going to school process is the same every.damn.day.

So, I keep chipping away at it.

I also say abusive things like “You know where the cups are. You can get some water.” when faced with the millionth “I’m thirsty!” or “you have young, strong legs. Go upstairs and get your kindle your damn self!” I don’t say “damn self” of course, because I am not a total monster. And of course this has to be age appropriate. I don’t expect my 2 year old to do the same things as my almost 9 year old. I don’t say these things because I am lazy or mean, though sometimes it feels this way. I do thins because I want them to be able to identify a want or a need they have and take care of it themselves if they can. I also want them to know how to ask for help if they need it and that needing help isn’t a failure. So I don’t want you to think I don’t help them or support them. I do.

Truthfully I just want to cover them with love and kissed all the time.

Sometimes I do. I can be a Smother Mother to the extent I put Beverly Goldberg to shame. Which might be why my oldest loves that show so much, he identifies. I have stormed school offices, demanded things from doctors and insisted everyone cave to my plan for my child because dammit I am RIGHT, and no one better mess with my babies.

Perhaps what I hate about The Tree is that if I could do that all the time, I would. But it wouldn’t be right. Because Rude Man Baby.

If we do our job correctly, we parent ourselves out of a job. If we encourage, require and show by example, perhaps our kids will not only be able to get themselves a drink when they’re thirst but ask others if they would like one as well. 

If we do our jobs correctly perhaps they’ll be able to find both their shoes and get to school on time, and then college on time, and then a job on time, and then church on time, and then God willing, the hospital on time. Perhaps then, when they place that sweet grand baby in my arms I will embrace my inner Giving Tree wholly and completely without exceptions and my sons and daughter and their partners will roll their eyes at one another as I sneak the kids ice cream with sprinkles for breakfast and they will whisper to one another:

I fucking hate The Giving Tree.

How Hillary Clinton and a Barista named Aaron kept me going.

 

16195130_10153984448085876_8882475005335036163_nIt was shortly after the election day, I was devastated. Like many others I had put my daughter to bed whispering , hoping I did’t jinx it. “Tomorrow when you wake up, it will be a whole new world.”

I jinxed it.

I didn’t lie to her. It was. It was a world where a sexual predator with no experience won over a woman more qualified than he could ever hope to be. Despite the medias non-stop barrage that she was was unpopular, Hillary Clinton was and is beloved. I know because we showed up to vote. We called, we wrote, we joined FB groups, and mobilized in her defense fighting inflammatory lies on line with facts. We canvasses and campaigned our hearts out and I stand by our love for her because all of those groups are still going. We haven’t abandoned her, or our love for her. We struggle for the words to  capture what she means to us, how she has inspired us, and we share with gusto when someone writes a piece that does so. We love her and voted for her enthusiastically and unapologetically.

We got the message loud and clear from the media, it was cool to love Bernie. Uncool to love Hillary.

Good thing we don’t care about being cool.

Hillary took to the woods, as well she should have, but those of us with daily jobs and small children had to keep going.  I was so depressed. Everywhere I went I was met with sympathetic eyes, sending messages of “me too”.  My town became smaller then. Because we were sending one another signs that we felt the same.  It felt like someone we loved had died and everywhere we went we encountered more mourners. We wandered around in a stupor of disbelief.  For those of us of the female persuasion it felt like we had come so close, so close, only to be told not only do we have to be PERFECT (she was a “flawed” candidate) but that by a tight margin people voted in a man who is a walking trigger warning.

My husband held me in his arms while I cried many times.  He reassured me we would be okay. I insisted other’s wouldn’t be. He told me he understood and we would be more involved. He told me it wouldn’t be too bad and didn’t even get angry when I told him he just could never understand.

After that I ate a lot of cookie dough.

Then, like a mystical creature, a Hillary sighting! Happy, relaxed, healing in her Technicolor Dream Coat (Hill, call me, let’s shop.) There she was, chatting with fellow hikers, visiting restaurants in her neighborhood. Interacting and living. If she can do it, so can I.

I reveled in every Facebook post and Instagram story that appeared. When she began speaking again I knew I was validated in my love for her. And I wept over how lucky we would have been to have her.

We didn’t just want A woman president. We wanted HER.

I run through the Starbucks drive-through frequently. I’m about as basic as basic gets and my two big weekly outings, as a work from home mom, are the ubiquitous Target and Starbucks. So, it was as I pulled up to the window I offered a weak smile to the young man taking my card. “How are you?” He asked out of routine. As an oversharer by nature I said “Well I am going to the march and that’s basically all that’s keeping me going.” He looked me dead in the eyes and said “I hear ya.” “What are we going to do?” I asked him,  all of probably 22 years old . He is 6 feet tall and strong, people might call him a thug if they saw him in a hoodie, but he was a  lifeline that day. We talked about how upset we were. How we were in this together. Right then I felt better. We are in this together. This young barista knows I have his back. I know he has mine. We joked about joining the resistance a la Star Wars and then at a later Drive Through chat we laughed about how we had done just that.

I look forward to seeing him. I once made him laugh when he said “I heard you over the speaker and said ‘I know her!'” I responded “it’s me! Your friendly neighborhood outraged stay at home mom!” His laugh filled my heart right up.

We chatted politics and smalls wins we have had. I want to ask him more about himself but there is rarely time. Everyone wants their double shot espressos and Flat Whites and I don’t blame them. I want my soy latte and I want it now. I can never thank Aaron for the gift he gave me that day in December when we first started speaking. How I think of him as a nephew, a son? I can only hope I helped him a little bit too. I know he helped me. He does every time I see him in the drive through and we talk.

When I feel down and like the Jackson Pollack like flinging of destruction coming at me is too much. I think of Hillary Clinton and of Aaron.

Then I get up and get going. I got some resisting to do.

 

 

 

You might be a Garbage Person if…

Unless you are the elusive unicorn mom who allows absolutely zero screen time (and I salute you if you are she), then at some point your children have been entranced by these videos of people opening toys on YouTube. From there it’s an easy trip down the Rabbit Hole and suddenly, even with all the parental controls that ever controlled, you kids end up seeing something they shouldn’t.

Here is my adorable daughter enjoying a break from her second birthday photoshoot. With my iphone.

Here is my adorable daughter enjoying a break from her second birthday photoshoot. With my iphone.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, it’s my job to make sure they don’t see anything and you’re absolutely right. The onus is always on us to guard our children. But I want to talk about the nefarious garbage people who make horrible videos for kids. And I am not talking ridiculous consumption of toys horrible, I’m talking about hearing the dulcet tones of the Peppa Pig theme followed by “I’M GONNA RAPE YOU IN THE ASS!” when they announce Daddy Pig horrible.

There is an entire community of grown adults who make these videos reenacting scenes with kids toys and making them horribly perverted. Yes, freedom of speech and expression, totally. Absolutely. But the end game seems to make sure they are in the video stream with the sweet-if cloying Disney Collector and the channels where people use the toys to teach colors and numbers. They specifically target kids. They enjoy this. They want the kids to see this filth.

My husband has his office in his home. I am a writer and photographer so I am frequently either writing or editing on my computer. My children’s school uses websites for math skills and english exercises. Pretending devices aren’t a part of our lives would be silly. They are. And as I do work from home there are times when I have to take a call, submit an article or deliver a gallery and it has to be done THEN. For that there is only one thing that can ensure ten minutes or so of time for me. And that is damn toy videos on YouTube. The next thing you know I hear that Owlette has been knocked up by Gecko from PJMasks and Catboy is pissed and wants to beat the shit out of Gecko.

If you’re not familiar with PJ Masks these characters are LITTLE KIDS who fight crime in their jammies at bedtime.

My oldest today came to me with all manner of questions about Santa. I was unprepared as, you know, it’s Spring. He happened upon videos of parents telling their kids Santa isn’t real. Everyone handles this differently, and as for me and my house we do Santa. Like, big time whoa we do Santa. I am ALL IN for the Santa experience. I myself am not entirely sure the big guy isn’t just hanging out at the North Pole with the elves. I once met Ed Asner and I swear he is moonlighting as a plain human 364 days a year.  I mean you guys, I am not kidding. The twinkle in his eye is pure magic.

I knew we  would have this conversation eventually and as of now he is “Leaning towards” me being Santa, but as he showed me the videos all could think was :

You people are garbage people.

Now, every Halloween I am accused of having ‘no sense of humor’ when it comes to the Jimmy Kimmel videos of the parent’s stealing the children’s candy.  I think a lot of things are funny, even the kid fail videos my kids’s show me. But making our kids cry on purpose? Taking something from one smaller that us? That’s not funny to me. That’s bullying. That’s what we are supposedly trying to teach our kids not to do! So go ahead, call me a pussy. I’ve been called it every year when I say it’s not cool…I can take it.

But I maintain if you knowingly set out to expose children to horrible things by making disgusting videos with kids’ shows and toys, or if you try to ruin childhood for others. Well then, you might be a garbage person.

And by might, I mean you are. Garbage. Person.

 

I hope you…

 

 

 

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My son at his schools multi-cultural night where the kids got passports and travelled around learning about where everyone is from. One of my favorite school events.

I am my son’s school for a surprise party. The kindergarteners have gathered on the rug in one gaggle of wiggles, they had filled out these adorable questionnaires;  their teacher was leaving to have a baby and they had all written their wishes for the new arrival.

 

“I hope you get a lot of toys.”

“I hope you get to go to Disney”

“I hope you like your brother”

“I hope you are not afraid of me”

When I volunteer there are some children who are a joy to work with, and this little girl is one of them. More often than not she wears a fancy party dress to school, with tennis shoes. I dig it. Pretty, but still ready to tear up the playground. Her name is one that is just different enough to feel unusual on my tongue and I wanted to get it right.

“It’s a long ‘eeeee’ sound, mommy. Not a short e sound.” says my five year old. I think to myself, ‘Suck on that Betsy DeVos.’

My sons attend a diverse school, and while my babies with their peaches and cream skin SEE color and acknowledge it, so far they haven’t attached value to it. Blond isn’t better than brown. White isn’t better than black. It’s just facts. And I have reveled in this. I mean, isn’t this what we want? It’s as easy as breathing for them to see, understand, and celebrate the differences without everyone being DIFFERENT. Because really they are all five and they just want to learn and play and eat goldfish crackers. It smacks me in the face again that I’ve not considered how the other children feel. I realize now, the world outside of the classroom is not that way for all of them. These children giggling all around me, some have already learned.

 

“I hope you are not afraid of me”

 

When my oldest was reading, I AM JACKIE ROBINSON, he learned that Jackie wasn’t allowed to swim in the pools with the white kids. When I explained the reason – my heart aching that I was even introducing the concept, but I guess at some point you have too- he said “Wait, so Isaac couldn’t swim with me?” “No, honey, back then some people thought white people and black people shouldn’t be friends.” “That’s so stupid.” he said, taking a long pause and getting right to the heart of it. “Isaac is a MUCH better swimmer than me ”

 

 

I watch as she tears into a present, their teacher has decided to let the children open her gifts for her and they do so gleefully and with abandon.

She is a tiny little thing, a firecracker of a girl, and you cannot help but smile when she smiles at you, her dimples deepening. She runs to me with a hug every time I see her, and her giggle is like bubbles. She is just about as darling as a kindergarten girl could be. Oh Halloween she wore, you guessed it, a fancy party dress and a tiara placed right on top of her bright hijab.

 

She hopes you are not afraid of her.

 

Imagine. She’s five. She hopes a brand new baby, not even born, will not be afraid of her. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe I have a heavy case of white, liberal guilt. (Let’s not kid ourselves, I definitely do.) But all those questionnaires… “I hope you ride a pony” “I hope you get lots of hugs.” “I hope Santa brings you chocolate” and one, lone, heartbreaking message.

 

“I hope you are not afraid of me.”

 

I wish I could whisper in her ear, “I am not afraid of you. I adore you, and you are perfect exactly as you are.” I wish I could step in front of whomever may hurl harsh words or worse her way.

 

She is so sweet, so pure. I look at her and I see my own daughter in two years. She also loves a good party dress and tennies.

 

I suppose the best thing I can do is raise my children to not be afraid. To not be afraid, and to not cause others to be afraid. To continue to welcome everyone. To think that different is good. Some people are Muslim, some are Catholic. Some people like baseball. Some people like ballet. Some people have blond hair. Some people wear hijabs. Just like Kindergarten.

 

But we are all just people.


And I am not afraid of you.

TWO- Lady Baby is TWO.

 

Every year on their birthday  I write my children a letter, this is Piper’s second birthday letter.

(this is so late due to so much site trauma. So third child, my LadyBaby, please forgive me.)

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TWO!

My Sweetest Lady,

You are two. Without a doubt these have been the two fastest years of my life. I’ve blinked and you’re two.

And what a two year old you are!

Your aunt says  “Piper’s such a little bad ass” and it’s one of my favorite things that’s ever been said about you. You are. You are as girly as they come. You only want pink, sparkly things around you, and if they are Minnie Mouse related, all the better! You are distinctive in your clothing choices already, obsessed with shoes, a jewelry thief of the highest order. Your sweet  little “tink you” when you get what you want will melt even the coldest heart. But should anyone mess with you?

Nope. Not today.

You are beyond fearless. You walk right up to the pool and plunge right in. Can’t swim? No big. You’ll figure it out. I am so grateful that you have deemed your pink safety float as a desirable accessory, because none of us can keep up with you!

You are determined, when you want to do something, you do it.

You are a sneak out of bed and destroy your room expert. You climb ALL the things and give me terrors over it! I kept finding these long bruises on your ribs and I admit it took me a while to realize it was because you were hurling yourself (quietly) out of your crib and then hurling yourself back in before the sun rose.  So off came the crib rail, and I was thrust into my last baby being a full on KID. But you’re my kid. I took you shopping for bedding for your new bed and you marched past all the characters and prints and went right for a frilly white quilt. “is Pippi!” You announced and I handed my card over to the cashier feeling so proud.

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I’ve had to move things so you can’t get up on your dresser, take even the toddler rail off your bed, due to your climbing and jumping in the middle of the night. Keeping you safe is a full time job. There are no baby gates on our stairs, we had to put a hook and eye lock on your door for nighttime because you took one look at the baby gate at the top of our very steep stairs and attempted to hurl yourself over it.

You call yourself Pippi, or Mon Pippi, because you own yourself and apparently you are French.  Your brothers still call you Lady or The Lady. Speaking of brothers, oh how they love you and you love them! Max is sweet and kind and makes sure you are safe and plays so happily with you. He thinks of you as his and takes a great deal of responsibility for you. And Huckleberry, I am not going to lie, Huck had a hard time when you were born. It’s rather common, but now you and he are best friends. He beats you up like crazy, won’t leave you alone and is always in your space. You LOVE it. And when you don’t, well…the little bad ass comes out and takes care of business. I like to tease that you are twins, you and Huck. The Terrific Twosome! You are wild and adventurous and the way you laugh together absolutely makes my heart want to burst.

You can sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the ABC song and several others like a PRO! You can identify most shapes and all the major colors, especially PINK!

You are inventive and silly, sweet and snuggly, and so full of personality.

You rarely throw tantrums, when you do they seem to be short lived- so far. Our favorite tantrum thing you do is fall to the ground and cry “Why! WHYYYYYYYYYYY?” Someday we will show you video of an ice skater named Nancy Kerrigan and tell you how without even knowing it you performed pitch perfect imitations of her, regularly.

You were our missing piece. With you we are complete. You are utterly adored by your father, who is powerless against your charms. He doesn’t even get grumpy when we come home with yet another pair of shoes, he just smiles and says “anything for Piper.”

You bring joy to everyone you meet, you wave at strangers and we will need to drive home some stranger danger lessons soon as you tend to just go up to anyone who looks like a grandpa and asked to be picked up.

That’s not cool. How do we encourage your friendliness and teach you not to just GO with people?

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Happy Birthday my sweet Lady Baby. You are the center of this family’s universe. Watching you play with your brothers heals my soul. Max teaches you love and kindness and gentle play. Huck makes sure no one will ever mess with you and with him you take over the world!
The three of you are a force to be reckoned with, trust me, I know. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

 

FIVE

 

Every year on their birthdays I write my children a letter. This is Huck’s fifth birthday letter.Huck Birthday collage WM

 

Dearest Huckleberry,

You are five. FIVE! I know  I sound like a broken record (and you won’t know what that means) but how did this happen? Where did the time go?  Five years ago today we brought you home from the hospital, so tiny and pink. You were one of those adorable “old man babies” and we were all smitten with you, no one more than Max.

Five years have passed and while you no longer look pink, tiny, or like an old man we remain smitten with our sweet Baboo. You are the spirit and the fire of our family. You bring the party wherever you go and you are all in for whatever is happening. This is usually a great thing, but sometimes not. You are what they describe as a “spirited” child, which means you have a very strong personality and a lot of joy, ideas, commitment and excitement. These are all amazing and excellent qualities that I cherish in you, even if it does make parenting a challenge sometimes. I read once that spirited children make for successful adults if we can just resist parenting the spirit out of them, and as your mother that is my goal. It’s hard to keep you safe and teach you how to negotiate the world when you are flying among the clouds and will not listen.

Listening is your least favorite thing in the world.

You said to me the other day “I get in trouble a lot” and that may seem true, we haven’t found your currency yet, so now we are trying something new. It broke my heart when you said that. The difference between you, Max (and so far Piper) is that when we tell them no, and why…they stop. You look at us with the cutest most sneaky little smile and keep on going. You test. And that’s okay. I want you to know that while you may GET into trouble a great deal right now, you are NOT a trouble to us. You are a joy. For no one brings pure love and joy to our family like you do.

You still love to hug and cuddle. You still say “mine” instead of  “my”. You are still the perfect size for snuggling. You love Rescue Bots and you felt bad about leaving Paw Patrol behind. You are kind, sweet, and above all else JOYOUS. Much like your joy is all encompassing, your hurt feelings or anger are also all encompassing. Your father likes to say you have been “notoriously wronged!” when you are upset and your anger is righteous! You, sir, are fully committed to whatever it is you are feeling.

You hate pants. In fact the very moment you get home you are pantsless. We are all used to it and in the words of your brother. “Huck has no pants on, that’s just his thing.” I used to fight you on it, but now…I just laugh. This too shall pass and soon you’ll be grown and off and I will laugh at how you used to wear a shirt and shoes and no pants.

Your perspective on the world is a constant delight. You handle your brother’s anxiety and sensory issues  beautifully. Willingly switching your party to a place he could enjoy, even when I reassured you that your party should be wherever YOU wanted it to be.

Max is reading Harry Potter right now and you’ve scratched your forehead in the exact Harry Potter spot, the other day  we were talking about it being a bummer we are Muggles and you piped up “not all of us! Max has super powers!” We frequently say that Max has super sonic hearing because of how easily loud noises can upset him. In that moment you made your big brother feel amazing. Thank you for that.

Spending time with you is so much fun, I am looking forward to trips this summer and lazy afternoons with you. There is nothing I don’t adore about you. You are a good, sweet boy, and while mischief comes easily to you, empathy comes even more naturally.

I am proud of how you grow every day.

You are my Huckleberry, through and through.

I cannot wait to see what this next year brings for you. You cannot wait to start Kindergarten and you are whip smart! I hope that you will be able to learn to follow rules and listen, while not losing that spirit and sweetness that make you YOU!

I love you always. Exactly as you are.

 

 

 

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You can read Huck’s Fourth Birthday Letter Here  his third, second and first!

Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down…

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Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Except for rainy days. I love rainy days. Love them. Mondays though, ugh. Right? Except there IS a certain deep sigh I can breathe when my kids are back to school. I mean I love my kids. Love them. But it’s kind of nice to have a touch of quiet knowing they are safely ensconced in the care of others and learning to be productive members of society. Even one of them is only in preschool for 2 hours…an hour and forty five minutes by the time I get home. Hour and a half by the time I get the baby to nap.

That’s not enough time to REALLY do something. Well, take a shower. Yes. I could do that. A long hot shower without someone ripping open the shower curtain with the latest breaking Paw Patrol news! Yes, maybe I’ll take a shower. And blow dry my hair. That’s a luxury.

First though, I’ll just sit and enjoy the quiet and drink some coffee. Now where IS my coffee? Ah, yes. there it is, right there on the kitchen counter where I left it. I do adore that cute Starbucks travel mug. It makes me smile every time I use it. I purposely bought it so I could drink coffee while driving the boys to school. But I left it and now it’s cold.

I’ll just pretend it’s iced coffee. I remember when my husband and I were dating and we would go to little cafes and drink iced coffee and people watch. This is just like that. Except for the massive pile of laundry I need to fold and put away. And the breakfast dishes to wash. I’ll just close my eyes and enjoy my cold coffee.

Wait, is that the Phineas and Ferb theme? I must have left the tv on in  the playroom. I should probably get up and turn that off. HA! This is one of my favorite episodes. Oh, Candace. Candace, Candace, Candace.Why don’t my kids appreciate the genius of Phineas and Ferb like I do?

So funny.

Huh? What? I must have dozed off. Time to go get the preschooler!

Good thing my cold coffee is already in a travel mug.

Mondays. Right?

It’s a double edged sword.

I was only a month younger than my daughter when my father was murdered.

I was only a month younger than my daughter when my father was murdered.

Something has been heavy in my mind lately. Last year I, like so  many of us, got into Serial, the NPR Podcast on the death of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the case against her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who had been convicted of her murder. I was not just ‘in to” Serial I was  OSBESSED with it.  My husband I listened, we researched and the hours we spent discussing it and the Undisclosed podcast, well, we probably could have gotten a lot of other stuff done. It seemed clear that Adnan Syed was not guilty, or at the very least was not given a fair trial. It was all about Adnan. But my heart was filled with Hae.
A few months ago Making a Murderer took Netflix by storm. Was Teresa Halbach really murdered by Steven Avery or was this an intricate plot by the state? This documentary took me longer to get into and honestly, I’m less outraged by it than most, with the exception of the (then) young cousin. I finished it a week ago and have crossed Manitowoc off my vacations spots thank you very much. I know all about the Avery family, and not nearly enough about Teresa Halbach.
This past week Serial’s Syed had a hearing for a new trial, it  began on Tuesday and wrapped up the following Monday and I hit refresh on that Twitter hashtag like I was playing the quarter slots in Vegas.

But still my heart was heavy.

I understand the stories of the killers are always the most fascinating. I love this stuff. And here we have two VERY intricate cases of what appears to us all as well, a criminal investigation clusterfuck. But I know all too well how the victim, and the victims families are usually a one liner at the end of the article or news story.

My father was murdered when I was a very little girl and I know how it can destroy a family

I keep thinking about the Halbach family, and especially this week, Hae Min Lee’s family. You see, every time there is an appeal, every time anything comes up it resets the grief clock. It’s losing your loved one all over again. And when you’ve lost someone in a vile and violent way, it’s horrific.
Today I saw a tweet about the Lee family and their “misplaced”anger. How could they be so certain about Adnan? How could they not be furious with the judicial system???

Because they have to be. And so do the Halbachs. And so did we. Because in the dark of the night when you can’t sleep and you mind goes to your loved ones last horrible moments-seared into your brain in a minute by minute account- the only balm we have for the wound is that their murderer won’t kill again. There will be other murders. But no one else will suffer the same exact fate as our loved one at the hand of their killer. No other family will suffer the same loss because we got him. He is off the street and that gives our loss a strange meaning. Their death may have saved others.

My family had a luxury they don’t. We absolutely had the right guy. We had witness after witness, his own words, evidence…it was a lock. Yet every appeal destroyed us.

My mother taught me early that it’s no good just to get a guy, you have to get THE guy. And we had the guy.
Still, I remember seeing my father’s killers  children on tv (then older than my father was when he was murdered) begging for their father’s life (and this is NOT a DP debate) I remember feeling so…outraged and forgotten. This man who had destroyed so many had three squares a day and a fully paid for degree, and 19 years to get to know his kids while we struggled, and I didn’t have one memory of my father. I have memories of the trials and sentencing though.I was furious with the empathy given to them (I’m grown now and can appreciate their loss as well) and my father? He was an afterthought

The Lees and Halbachs are going through this a thousand fold. Only so much worse.

I cannot speak for them exactly, but it’s the worst nightmare, their loved one is being murdered all over again and it feels like the world values their murderer over the victim.

So please, be kind. Remember Teresa and Hae.  Understand their families pain. They hold NO RESPONSIBILITY for the convictions.  As we  tweet and support Adnan (which I do) remember their pain. They are just trying to breathe day by day.

It really is no good to get any guy, you have to get THE guy. And currently there are too many questions about whether Adnan Syed is the guy. A new trial will answer that once and for all but for them? It’s torture. It’s terror. It’s happening all over again.

Justice for Hae is tied to justice for Adnan. If he is innocent then Hae’s murderer still walks free and the comfort that her death was not in vain is taken from them as well.

So yes, absolutely we need reform. We need to look hard at cases like Adnan Syed. But let’s not let the victims be victimized all over again. We can do that by understanding their outrage if they have it. By allowing them to rage without repercussion from us, the bystanders. Because they fear the loss of another’s loved one. They fear the loss of the comforting thought in the middle of the night.

And most importantly by not letting their loved ones be only a final line in the article.

Fear The Walking Dead, let’s discuss.

Fear-Walking-Dead

(photo)

We are four episodes into Fear The Walking Dead and I’m intrigued. I’m on board. Mostly on the strength of the main couple. I like both those actors and I’m in for a few more to see where we are heading with all this.

I would have loved to see the breakdown for casting the part of Travis; “seeking clean cut, good boy with an underlying essence of grit and toughness.  He is a family man but we can see the  journey he has taken, and will take in his eyes. Must be vaguely ethnic. Could he be Middle Eastern, Egyptian, maybe he is Sicilian or Portuguese?  Must NOT be Black. as he will not be killed off.” (we all know in the Walking Dead universe we are only allowed one Black guy at a time. And FTWD went and killed off Fiona Apple’s err…Alicia’s boyfriend in the first ep. Thus far we haven’t been introduced to another Black main character. Also, sometimes we have to trade someone rad like T-Dog or Tyrese and we get to keep someone like Derpy Bob,  and that’s just not fair. PLUS we all agree Sasha deserves  better, right? RIGHT? I digress…)

I thought it was a little trite that the premiere had only the junkie and the troubled kid at school saying something crazy stuff was going down. OH! And then of course there was Nick’s old BFF Preppy Cute Black guy who turned out to be the drug dealer and then, you know, died. 

But whatever. I love the Walking Dead so much I am hanging in, and honestly shouldn’t the premise of it all beginning be SCARIER? Like, we should all be able to imagine this happening. But my husband and I intersperse voracious watching with quoting Shaun Of The Dead. You’ve got red on you.

Next  we need to talk about Nick’s hair. Listen, Nick, we all have our struggles. His include being a junkie with greasy hair that can withstand even a slightly slimy chlorinated pool. I’d say perhaps the slime gave him a grease assist, but we are four episodes in and we know….that ish is all you. It’s like Edward Scissorhands was a formative experience in young Nick’s life and he thought “I’m gonna get that hair! But less stylish”  This week featured the rounding up of the sick and the weak and the ever wise, slightly annoying but somehow I still love him Mr. Salazar warned Assistant Principal Barbie that they say you’ll come back but ya don’t.  Of course Nick was rounded up for being an addict and carefully placed in an ambulance, no that’s wrong, they tossed him in a truck like cattle and he was whisked off to the hospital(?) We know he will be back since he is the main character’s son, which is kinda too bad because he takes away from Fiona’s self harm, breaking and entering story line, which is really only missing an instrumental version of “Criminal”. Poor kid. We can only hope that before Nick escapes he makes use of the industrial showers and some Head & Shoulders Oily Hair shampoo.

And maybe some bronzer. This is LA, after all.

Travis’ son Chris is the sleeper hero. They discount him already but he is the one who tried to help Fiona get over the fence when next door neighbor auntie was trying to eat her. He’s optimistically documenting what’s going down in hopes of scoring a TLC special once the world is righted. Perched on the roof (like a fiddler while LA burns) he notices a flashing light. Do we think the blinking light is a person? Is that Morse code? I don’t know Morse code, do you? And how would one look it up in order to try to communicate? I mean iPhone is dead, Google is gone. Dad doesn’t believe but Stepmom Barbie does, and perches herself roof top to watch the beautiful early morning sunrise with a mini flashlight, blinking. I’m pretty sure she is messaging “Is Sephora still standing? I am almost out of this AMAZING lip color!”

Someone blinks back. “No girl, it’s gone. Also everyone is dead.”

Will our hearty crew reunite with Nick? Will they bust out of the fence and go in search of Blinky? And will be Blinky be black? Cause if so, don’t get too attached.

 

Are you guys enjoying the show? Thoughts?