Thursday, March 09, 2017

For Michael, At Nine

Dear Michael,

I just tucked your nine-year-old self into bed. As I turned off your overhead light and went to switch on your radio (you listen to game broadcasts, or sports talk radio at night) you asked me to wait a minute. Then you said, "Will you please sing Happy Birthday to me one last time?"

Of course I obliged. And I sang it slowly - drawing out that tender moment. I know you like the way I sing. I also know you're likely to outgrow that opinion soon. So, for now, I will sing to you anytime you want.

Despite the fact that your birthday fell on a Thursday, you managed to have a pretty great day. "Best birthday ever!" you said, more than once. Your day began with a giant Rice Krispie treat for breakfast. It was cut to resemble a slice of cake. I put a candle in it and we sang to you around the kitchen table at 6:45 this morning. Not a bad way to begin your day.

As you and Harper get older, I find it a little more difficult to write these birthday notes. I still want to celebrate the person you are, but I also find myself a little sad about how quickly it's all happening. At dinner tonight Daddy kept showing me old photos of you on his phone - I had to make him stop before I drowned my food in a puddle of tears.

Don't go so fast.

There are two things I've noticed recently that I've sort of saved up to comment on, on this birthday. You are not perfectly behaved, far from it, but you have such a gentle spirit and such a kind heart. As you get older it only become easier for me to see this side of you. I offer you a couple of examples:

  • Our dog, Rebound, is getting very old. He'll be 14 in April. Some days you decide to leave your precious "blankie", the one Auntie M made for you when you were born, on the living room floor - just so Rebound can rest on it when we're all gone during the day. And he does! More than once we've come home and he's been happily curled up, sleeping on your offering. 
  • Every morning we walk down the sidewalk to your bus stop. This is the first year you've ridden the bus, so everything about that has been a new experience. There is a kindergartner, who lives on the next street over, who is also at your bus stop. On the first day she rode the bus, you offered to sit with her (such a gentleman!) and then took it like a champ when she turned you down. To be fair, she's half your size, so that offer may have been a little intimidating. Recently I realized that no matter where we are standing, no matter what the weather is like, you always, ALWAYS wait for the little girl to get on the bus first. Sometimes you are closer to where it stops, sometimes she needs an extra moment to say goodbye to her mom, but you never jump ahead. I know that I never told you that you should let her get on the bus first, maybe Daddy did, at the beginning of the year? I just know that it warms my heart a little each morning to see that you wait for her. 

You have an instinct to look out for others, Michael, and it is one of my favorite things about you.

Nine is a great age and I'm looking forward to all that this year has in store for you. I love you Michael. Happy birthday.

Love always,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Tale of Two Photos

Recently one of my internet friends, Heather, posted a couple of pictures on Facebook... one was a shot of a happy couple on vacation: the second, wider, shot showed the same happy couple, but also their boys who were tussling a few feet away. It made me smile because we all do that, right? If you have ever posted on social media it's likely you've cropped something or used a filter that makes your dirty floor less obvious or adjusted the lighting to minimize the blemishes on your selfie... I appreciated her honesty.

I can't say that I fault anyone for putting her best foot forward, publicly. We do that in a hundred different ways on a daily basis. We care about the impression we make. It's the same kind of motivation that keeps me from showing up to work in sweatpants. Except on pajama day, I'm ALL IN on pajama day...

Last night I had a small melancholy moment in my inner dialog. It was only Michael and I for dinner - Matt was running a basketball tryout and Tuesdays are one of the nights Harper eats at the dance studio since she's there 4:45 - 8:15. We have several nights on the schedule this week that timing dictates we grab dinner on the go, so I cooked a decent meal, even though there were only two of us. Dinner was rice, green beans, and lemon garlic chicken. I only prepared three pieces of chicken: one for Michael, one for myself, and one for lunch leftovers. Only making three meant that I could use my small dish and I had a mental flicker of the future when I'd someday only be cooking for Matt and myself again. For some reason I decided to document the small dish:

It's not a professional food photo, by any stretch, but it doesn't look bad right? You can probably picture Michael and I sitting down to a nice dinner together. 

What you can't see in that first photo was that, since only two of us were eating, I didn't bother to clear the previous day's Costco haul of batteries and light bulbs from the table. The second photo also gives away the fact that Michael won't eat rice without a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top and we just plopped the bag right down on the table. In fact the only thing that was in a nice dish was the chicken - and even that was the dish I baked it in and not a platter or something. 

I don't mean to get preachy, but it occurred to me that there are probably many moments in life when what we observe of others presents only a small part of the bigger picture they are dealing with. It's not a bad thing to keep in mind, the fact that there's almost always something else outside the frame. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This past weekend, as I was running some errands, I caught a few moments of NPR's This American Life. The show was full of people's stories about coincidences and, even though I only heard a portion of the show, it made me think of coincidence in my own life and it reminded me of a strange thing I hadn't thought about in many years...

In early 2000 (there's evidence of the date below) I had just graduated from college and was living in Wisconsin, spending my days substitute teaching. I had a decent amount of free time on my hands. I don't recall how I came across the website, but I ended up online, answering some questions, getting a prediction of the date I'd be married by. 

I had not moved back to Ohio yet, did not know I was going to do so, and had not met Matt. I have no recollection of what kinds of questions were asked. But when I got my "results" I decided to print them and save them. I tucked them away in a drawer or notebook and promptly forgot about them. Below is the paper with my results printed on it:

I don't recall exactly when I found that piece of paper again. You can see that I'd printed it on February 9, 2000. The date it said I'd be married by? Well that turned out to be my actual wedding day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reentry, Again

As often happens after participating in National Blog Posting Month, I reach the end of November and I am done with all the words. Then the holidays happen and I come up for air and realize that January is almost over.

I don't recall whether I already mentioned this in the blog or not, but, back in October, I joined the editorial board of Literary Mama. Taking on that new (volunteer) role has provided a good challenge. I am still working on seamlessly (ha!) integrating those tasks into my daily routines. Fortunately I have patient co-editor who is walking me through the steps.

I'll be writing more soon, but in the meantime please do check out the new issue of Literary Mama. While you're there you can subscribe to Literary Mama blog posts, subscribe to the newsletter, or follow/friend us on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Pinterest!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winner Winner...

...chicken dinner!

Somewhere down the road I owe this space three decent blog posts to make up for these last three sad ones for the end of NaBloPoMo. I have been really scrambling the last three days to make up for all the time I didn't spend writing while we were in Florida. I had to write about 10,000 words today to meet the 50,000 word goal by the time National Novel Writing Month ended and I did it! It was insane and I spent every free moment typing away.

The turn my story took at the end means that it isn't actually finished. The whole thing is incredibly flawed but it is there. Maybe I will pick it up again and finish the story or maybe not, but it always feels good to set a goal and reach it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home Stretch, Part II

I appear to have brought a cold home from vacation. This is not necessarily the type of souvenir I like to have to remember my travels by. I am feeling both cranky and whiny tonight, which is not a great combination for accomplishing anything.

The good news is, it is the time of year for listening to Christmas music - an effective mood-booster. The Piano Guys, A Family Christmas, is my album of choice at the moment, but there are so many good ones to choose from. What are your favorites?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Home Stretch

I'm a little under-motivated for blog posting today. I think nine days away is finally catching up with me and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the Christmas prep that now needs to be done! Only two more days in National Blog Posting Month and in National Novel Writing Month - I could use a little boost to get both done, but what I really want is to curl up and go to sleep.