Wednesday, July 11, 2018


wide eyed wonder
I love watching my kids watch movies I loved when I was a kid. Because the movies are still good. They are still powerful. They are still enjoyed by kids decades after being made. My kids are watching these movies millions of people have seen with fresh eyes and no expectations. It's magical. Here are four notable reactions:

::: Spoilers ahead :::
If you have somehow never watched The NeverEnding Story
and/or E.T., watch them before reading the last two entries.
The Princess Bride (1987): [After the movie] Reenacting the sword fight between the Man in Black and Inigo. Often. It's awesome. I even told them if they can replicate the scene accurately, I'll give them $100.

Labyrinth (1986) : [After the movie] Singing "Dance Magic" in the car on the way home. Remembering most of the words from watching the movie, and learning the rest from me during the ride.

The NeverEnding Story (1984): [Right before the Childlike Empress begs Bastian to say it] My son  shouting, "Say her name!" towards our TV. My eyes may have filled with tears at this. He also wanted to read the book later-something else that filled me with inexplicable pride and happiness.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): [When the bikes started flying to escape the scientists] Arms pumping in the air and cheering loudly. This really caught me by surprise--I didn't know if the kids had actually even been following the plot. But they had been--and they were feeling the triumph and relief I had probably felt when I had also ridden those bikes into the sky first seen that scene.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

fear of dying, fear of living

videographerAsk any news photographer who has had the job for a while: What is the worst sound in the world? He will know the answer, because he has heard it. Most reporters will know what it is, too. I'm sure there are plenty of cops who know. Many servicepeople and some doctors will be able to tell you the answer. Maybe you know the answer. Maybe you have had the awful experience of personally knowing the sound. And there is an answer. A single answer. It's not nails on a chalkboard, the latest boy band, or people eating food in an audible manner. The worst sound ever made is the sound a mother makes when she finds out her child has died.
It's not a word. It's not weeping. It's not just a cry. The sound is so haunting, it contains waves of feelings in it. Even the memory of hearing it may cause you to tremble, or bring tears to your eyes. When you hear it, even if you don't know what has happened, you will instantly realize something very significant and terrible has just occurred. Sometimes the sound is made by an aunt or grandmother or even a wife. It has probably been emitted by a dad or grandad or uncle. Maybe cousins can make the sound. I don't think it can be faked. The sound is almost visible, round. I imagine there's a bit of the person's soul or heart contained in that sound as it tears away from her body. And it inevitably affects everyone it touches.

I hope you have never heard that sound.
I hope you never hear that sound.
If you have ever made that sound, my heart aches for you.

Maybe the sound doesn't permanently change everyone who has heard it. But the echos of those sounds (I have, unfortunately, heard it several times.) linger in my mind. They whisper and howl as I make choices about my kids. I focus on long-term goals. I teach my kids manners, patience, kindness. I want them to learn about accountability and consequences. I need to be their guide into adulthood. But those sounds. That hurt beyond words. The reminder that bad things happen. Bad things happen to sweet little kids. I don't want the last thing I say to my son to be a denial of some simple material thing--a 25 cent toy, sprinkles on his ice cream cone. I try not to spoil my kids. I am still planning, hoping, praying for the long-term. I don't want my kids to feel and act entitled to everything or even anything. I don't want my boys toadto be obnoxious kids or adults. But the thought of their deaths is horrible enough without the addition of the guilt I know I would pile onto my grief if our last day spent together was filled with yelling or crying or gloominess. Of course that could still happen, and of course it wouldn't outweigh the love and happiness and joy from the rest of our lives. But rejecting those requests of "one more cookie," "one more hug," "let's ride again," "let's play again" to stand my ground as a parent is often too big of a battle for me to win against myself. I usually opt for the risk-I take the chance that changing my "five more minutes" call to 15 more won't make my children lose respect for authority figures, and letting my sons persuade me with their smiles occasionally won't turn them into wretched men who think they can get anything they want with a well-timed wink.
Being a parent is hard in so many ways. And this is one of them for me. Trying to make decisions with the weight of They Might Live 150 Years on one shoulder, and They Might Die Today on the other. Perhaps it's morbid and paranoid. Maybe you think it's a crazy or dumb way to think about living and raising kids. But it really is a burden some parents carry as they navigate life and parenting. And, for me, I can trace some of that burden's origins back to a sound that is more than a sound. The worst sound. A sound I hope I never hear again. And a sound I pray I never make.

<!-- Maybe you think I'm crazy or dumb. It could probably be modified and applied to other situations--like choosing a car, a stock, a house --!>

Friday, August 4, 2017

🎢🎢🎢 Random dancing! πŸ•ΊπŸ•ΊπŸ•Ί

In case you are looking for cute dance-able music for young kids, here are two songs that are almost-guaranteed to get my kids to stop fighting/complaining/whining & start dancing!

1. The Goldfish by The Laurie Berkner Band
2. Pop See Ko by Koo Koo Kangaroo

Maybe your kids will like them, too.

Other songs are also loved by our family. But these two seem to most consistently (right now) get my boys moving and grooving. My youngest son has a whole routine (created by himself) for The Goldfish, and we like to occasionally (and usually quite randomly) call out to each other and start our round of Pop See Ko. Most significantly, if I hear grumpiness happening in my house, I can just pull up one of those songs, and get a dance party started!

This concludes this brief musical blog post. πŸ˜ƒ

Friday, June 30, 2017

Danger everywhere

Walking to a Fun Somewhere
Yesterday, my two sons and I were crossing a road. We had walked along the sidewalk to a crosswalk. I looked both ways. I held their hands. There were no cars coming. We swiftly walked across the road. Suddenly the car parked on the far side of the road, to our left, backed up. Suddenly and quickly. I stopped. I pulled the boys back. The people on the sidewalk in front of us gasped. The car stopped. I finished the final few steps and moved onto the sidewalk with my boys. I gave the driver, who was now in the far lane--having done a u-turn out of his parking spot, a dirty look. He seemed a bit shocked, maybe apologetic. (The expression may have been my imagination, but I'm 99.99945% sure the guy wasn't trying to hit us.) Many of the people on the sidewalk shook their heads and said, "He didn't even look!" I calmly told my kids that's why we hold hands when we cross the road.
I tried not to look at my sons. I had to use everything I had inside me to hold back tears, stop my body from shaking, and chase away the image of my sweet little boys so close to the bumper of a 4,000 pound monster. I was right there with them, and I still almost failed them. Everything about our lives, all parts of our world, could have changed right in that instant. And I was leading them, hand-in-hand.

It wasn't a big deal. No actual damage happened. But it was still terrifying. And after it happened, I acted like it was no big deal. Because I wanted to be brave for my brave little boys.
Today, Facebook told me I hadn't written a blog post in a while. The memory of yesterday repeated itself, and I also remembered something I wrote a while ago. So, here it is.

Any time (ok, every time) I hand over one of my sweet little boys into the care of someone else, I want to send this letter with him.

I need you to take care of him.
I've been working hard to keep this little dude alive. I've been there to catch him when he ventured so high he ran out of the strength, or the bravery, for the climb down. I've been making sure he doesn't get hit by cars, or bitten by dogs. I've been keeping his skin safe from the sun, his belly safe from dirty toys and spoiled food, and his eyes and ears safe from nightmare-inducing scenes. I've been trying, at least.
Warning: No Answers Inside
Keeping him alive really has been hard work at times. Because kids are people, with their own minds and ideas, not lumps of clay. And sometimes my little guy's brain tells him to run across a busy parking lot, or follow a stranger with a dog, or reach for shiny objects without even wondering if they could be sharp.
I know you are a trained professional. Or a loving relative. Or a trusted friend. And you will most likely do your best. Hopefully you care. I know everything will, most likely, be ok. But there are so many scary exceptions. The lunatic wild card who penetrates the force field surrounding the school. The risk with even a minor surgery that things can go very very wrong. The unwritten reasons there's a line on the playpark waiver saying the staff and company aren't responsible if my kid gets hurt or dies. DIES! No matter that rarity of each possibility, the possibilities are still there. And the accidents. The countless accidents. Even if everyone on the internet can find someone to blame, there are still accidents, maybe even some with absolutely no one at fault.
I trust you enough to hand the most precious person, the most precious anything, in my life over to your care. But I can never trust you completely. I can never trust me completely. He is more important than both of us.
Please, take care of my little boy. Please.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

You Come to My House, Into My Yard, and Do What?

You should fix...basically everything.
Someone from "TruGreen" stopped by my house and did a "free lawn evaluation." Completely unsolicited, unexpected, uninvited, etc. And a lovely checklist was left on my door telling me all (probably just some) of the things wrong with my yard. Thanks a lot.
I know landscaping and lawn care companies exist. Does anyone not realize these services are available? If my lawn is ugly, I probably already know that, too. You aren't delivering breaking news by pinpointing specific flaws.
Maybe my lawn looks great and/or I like my yard exactly the way it is. Are you trying to make me feel insecure and bully me into asking for your company's help?
You suck, and so does your grass. Luv Always, TruGreen
You have been weighed, you have been measured,
and you have been found wanting. (--A Knight's Tale)
Giving me a list in that manner causes me to hate your company. And now I am absolutely guaranteed to never ever ever call or use your company.
A card or flyer with your name and type of business would have sufficed. If I ever feel the need, and have the money, to hire a lawn company, maybe you would have gotten a call. But you won't. Instead, you get a blog post.

If I walk up to a store's beauty counter asking for a makeover, and the person there suggest ways I might be able to improve my face or my overall look-I'd be okay with that. If I'm walking around the appliance department, and an employee runs up with a checklist saying my skin is bad, I'm too fat, my hair is stringy, and my face is ugly-I'd probably punch him in the gut. (Actually, I would probably just cry because I'm more of a Gorgonite than I would like to be. But, the feeling would be there!)

Even if the things on the evaluation are all true... the delivery method of the message is still rude. So, TruGreen, think up a better way to solicit business. Here's my "Free Marketing Evaluation" of your practices: You suck.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bizarre Scolds

Don't run with scissors. Wear a coat in the snow.
Those I expected to say.
But, there are things I have found myself saying, or yelling, which I never expected.
Here are some things that have actually come out of my mouth and flown towards my children:

Don't put your eyeball in your nose!
No throwing potatoes!
Don't put that minion under your shirt!
But it's ok to pet the snake.
Don't put avocados in your shirt.
This is not a kicking place, and those are not kicking carrots.
Don't make her eat her hair.
Don't put your fork in your shoe!
Don't yell at the clouds!
Do not color your armpit!
You can throw the hot dogs at me, but not the buns!

I'm also weird enough to have written them down.
So, yeah.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Things People Without Children Don't Appreciate, But Should

Putting on shoes and never finding Cheerios in them

Being able to pee--any time you want--without having to figure out what to do with the kids, and then completing the task without interruption

Watching TV shows during the day that include bad words, bad deeds, bad ideas, and bad examples

Shopping without considering what will make an infant or toddler or child or pre-teen happy

Leisurely scrolling through feeds, reading emails, posting blogs, playing games

Having a clean car

Having empty space in your house

Talking on the phone without a barrage of questions and "shows" happening on your side of the call

Not being randomly tackled and smothered with hugs and kisses when you're trying to get something done

Alternative list title:
Things That Will Make Me Sad When I Notice Them After My Kids Have Grown Up