Happy birthday Cameron!

cammyThis beautiful boy turns 17 today and I cannot believe it. I am not a parent who longs for the infant stage to return, or to go back to the toddler stage- to ask for that would be to negate all that my son has become since then (it would also mean less sleep, and… no thanks). He is far too intelligent and talented, affectionate and interesting for me to want to reverse time.

Cameron is my first child and my only son. He is one of the brightest lights and greatest joys of my life. (He also sucks sometimes- real talk.) His schoolmates know him as a kind person who is always there to listen or lend a hand- and his sisters know him as a demigod with his own car, who enjoys country music and instructing them on the ways of the world. Cam is a good student, a dedicated athlete, and- as he has always been- a gifted people person. He thrives in a group setting, making some people feel more at home and bridging gaps for others. It’s just who he is and what he does.

I always wanted a son of my own- I didn’t care about having more than one, I just wanted one- and it is my great honor and privilege to have a son as spectacular as Cameron. He is sharp. He is kind. He is funny. (He is also a teenage boy, so he also…… keeps us on our toes. Let’s put it like that.) I would never go back in time to when he was younger, because with every year, he is developing more and more into the good man he will become. He fills me with pride and joy and a sense of wholly undeserved good fortune, and- even though he belongs more to himself than to me- he will forever and always be my beautiful boy.

Happy birthday, Cam. You make the world a better place.

    Wednesday Morning Dance Party

    [Cam’s car needs some attention, so Julie is driving Cam and Gabby to school. Julie turns on the 90s JAMS channel.]

    JULIE: Yeah!!!!!! Wednesday morning dance party!!!!



    CAM: I don’t even listen to the radio. I only listen to Spotify, Mom…. Mom?

    GABBY: …Mom, this is too loud.

    JULIE: Nineties jams!!!!!!!

    GABBY: Is this what you used to “jam” to, Mom? Even the word “jam” is the worst.

    CAM: Gabby, prepare yourself for a Thursday morning dance party and a Friday morning dance party. I’ll have my car ready to go first thing Saturday morning.

    In conclusion: they don’t know what’s good.


      The Egg-celerator

      Once upon a time I thought that my days of making crazy crap for the kids’ school projects were coming to a close, hahahahahahaha. Cam came home this week, needing to create a device that could safely hold a raw egg when dropped from a distance of 15 feet. After lots of wild ideas including some sort of force dispersion powder, a counterweighted Pringles can, and even peanut butter- Cam and I settled on bubble wrap and a cardboard box. He covered his device with flame-printed duct tape and labeled it “The Egg-Celerator” which is funny although slightly off point, and headed off to school. We had this conversation this afternoon, and please enjoy Gabby’s cameo:

      CAM: So my egg survived. BUT: three other people who used bubble wrap had their eggs break.

      JULIE: Wow. I bet you were sweating it.

      CAM: I was. But it survived. But you should have seen what some other people used, Mom! Someone used buckshot, and someone else used a jar of Vaseline–

      JULIE: -buckshot?!

      GABBY [calling from her room]: I told you to use peanut butter! If they let someone use Vaseline, they would have let you use peanut butter!

      JULIE: He couldn’t use food,Gabby! When’s the last time you ate a spoonful of Vaseline?


      CAM: – and I was thinking: maybe I could have done something cooler. Like, what if I put magnesium and water into a bottle cap, and suspended the egg within it? So when it landed, the magnesium would ignite and burn the bottle, and the egg would end up resting on the ash?


      CAM: Magnesium burns pretty fast, Mom.

      JULIE: Yeah, you’re right. I was just burning some magnesium the other day, and it really burned fast, my God.



      CAM: …..I don’t think that’s true.


        Six Years.

        Love you, and miss you always.

        Love you, and miss you always.

        Six years ago today- an eternity and an instant- my beloved and wonderful dad won peace in his battle with cancer. I think about him every day. We talk about him every day. My mom and my siblings and I are on a group text, where for the past few days we have been reliving his jokes and his sayings, texting each other our favorite photos, and telling each other our favorite stories.

        How he would have loved to see my son, his chubby-cheeked little doppelganger, morph into a lean, strong lacrosse player– and to mercilessly tease him about his long hair. Gabby was in third grade when he died, so although Dad was quite familiar with her king-sized personality, he never got the chance to see what a strong, funny, confident young lady she would become. Today I asked Addie what she remembered about her papa, and she remembers- just barely, and I had to help her with the details- that she and I used to take Dad to his radiation treatments, and that the nurses there always had a treat for her. She would eat her cookie- or drink her hot chocolate- and color the nurses a picture while we waited for Dad. “And they put it on the wall, didn’t they, Mom?” Addie asked me today, with a little spark of memory in her face. But about her Papa- Addie was five years old when he died, and her memories are more about feelings than moments. She remembers laughing, and she remembers love.

        I still miss my dad every day. And I still try, every day, to make him proud of me. Love you, Dad.



          Happy 2018!

          I survived my first semester in my new position- and even thrived. You guys, I LOVE IT. This position was tailor made for my skill set, and I don’t mind at all that I was so busy for an entire semester that I did nothing but work, drive carpool, and go to yoga.

          Especially because we spent 10 days in New Orleans after Christmas! Because I have a big girl job now, I can’t blow off my responsibilities for Mardi Gras (still cannot believe the whole world doesn’t stop for Carnival season) this year. So the five of us and some friends took off for NOLA, and we slept in and had beignets and went on haunted pub crawls and I ran in Audobon Park and it was absolutely fantastic.

          I approve this message.

          I approve this message.

          Also this message.

          Also this message.

          In other news, the anniversary of Dad’s death is approaching. My siblings and I have had a group text going for months now- initially because of our Ireland trip, but now just for logistics and sibling teasing purposes. My brother texted us the photo below – taken at probably 5am on Christmas morning- in which my Dad, hilariously, appears to be examining his life choices:

          Also please enjoy that sketch of my mother on the wall.

          Also please enjoy that sketch of my mother on the wall.

          Before we head into the spring semester- a semester for which I have even more grand plans- I want to recount a conversation I had with Gabby a couple of nights ago.

          GABBY [bounding into the room and interrupting my book]: Mom!!!! I’m going to send you a link to a video. You don’t have to watch it right now, but I want you to watch it. It’s of Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance.

          JULIE: Just so you know, I will not be watching that video.

          GABBY: …Then I’ll just put it on and make you watch it right now. [Climbs on me and forces me to watch an infinity of My Chemical Romance videos, and also explains to me how Gerard Way loves Smashing Pumpkins and wants to emulate that band’s trajectory.]

          JULIE: I saw Smashing Pumpkins in concert once.

          GABBY: Mom! This is not about your ancient concerts. Here’s Gerard Way in a million hair colors. Which do you like best?

          JULIE:  ….. Well, when he’s really really blond, maybe he’s trying to kind of emulate Billy Corgan.

          GABBY [total disdain]: Who’s Billy Corgan? He is not.

          JULIE: Billy Corgan formed Smashing Pumpkins. He’s probably your boy’s hero and you didn’t even know it.

          GABBY: Oh my gosh, Mom. You’re ruining this for me.

          [DAVE enters the room]

          GABBY: Dad! Mom is ruining this for me.

          DAVE: Judging by her face, I think you’re ruining this for Mom.

          I bet my face looked just like Dad’s does in the pic above. Solidarity, Dad. I feel you.



            Five years ago..

            On this day in 2012, we were closing in on the first anniversary of my dad’s death. Dad was on our minds and in our hearts more or less constantly.

            Then a monster walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 6 teachers and 20 children. Addie was 6 years old at the time, the same age as many of the children who died. She was full of questions about these children: what did they like to do, what did they think when the shooter came into the school, were they afraid. The idea of these children dying alone, without their parents, distressed Addie so much. A few days later, she came to me with a solution. She said, “Do you think Papa was there to help those kids when they died? So they didn’t feel scared?”

            And I said the only possible thing I could tell a 6-year-old child struggling to answer an impossible question: “Yes. Papa is taking good care of those kids for their families. You don’t have to worry about them.”

            Please go to the memorial website today, look at their photos, and read the stories of these women and children whose lives were taken for no reason at all.

              Happy Anniversary!

              I fell head over heels in love with Dave about 21 years ago. I married him 19 years ago. Between then and now, my feet landed back on the ground- in the best, best way. Dave and I have found our way together through the whole gamut of experiences- from awesome to “fuuuuuuck.” Standing at the altar nineteen years ago, there was a lot that I didn’t know (including that Dave would shortly step on my wedding dress and rip a hole in it. Just saying). I knew nothing about what was to come; I was just excited to spend it with this man by my side.

              Today, I know a lot more about good times and bad times, and those things that can strengthen you or pull you apart. I know a lot more about the deep well of goodness in Dave, his essential groundedness, and his easy strength. I understand now that he will never, ever, get any better at being places on time. I also realize that I’m not always a peach to live with, either- and he accepted the whole package. More than ever, I understand that I know nothing about what is to come.

              And I’m so, so glad to experience it with Davey. Thanks for being my buddy. Looking forward to our fifteen minute drink tonight, after Kid Activity Carpool.

                Monday Afternoon

                CAM [wandering into the kitchen]: What can I eat really fast, before Homecoming Olympics?

                GABBY: First you have to tell me what ‘francophone’ means. Is that French?

                CAM [looking through the fridge]: Maybe I’ll just have some cereal…. so, ‘francophone’ is an English word. It means “French speaking.”

                JULIE: So guess what the word ‘anglophone’ means?

                GABBY: “Angler-fish speaking.”



                GABBY: Points for originality?

                  Shopping with Gabby

                  Cammy has attended a couple of high school dances. It’s easy as pie: I take him shopping a week or so beforehand, he quickly finds pants (black) and a shirt (black) and a tie (color dependent on the date). Easy as can be. Not so with Gabby; this year she is actually going to Homecoming with a date. At first I thought it was going to be just as simple; Gabby has never been a fan of too much fuss and too many frills. She didn’t even want to shop: she picked out a dress on Amazon and asked me what color Converse she should wear with it. I thought I was home free…. until the dress came, and it was too big, and it didn’t look the way she had envisioned it….. and I said, “Well, we can go shopping and you can try things on-” never thinking she would go for it and hiding my surprise when she said, “Okay. I’ll get my shoes.”

                  The boutique we went to was stuffed with variations on a single dress theme: lace and rhinestones on top, short fluffy skirts on the bottom. Gabby did try on a couple like that and thought she might like one in particular, red with red lace appliques and pockets (in retrospect, she talked about the pockets so much that I think they were her main motivator). She also tried on something totally different: a sleeveless sheath dress, with rays of rose gold sequins radiating out from a center point. When she was trying to decide between the two, one of the sales girls helpfully said, “Well, if you want to be sure that you get something similar to what the other girls are going to wear, go with the red. That way you know you won’t stand out for looking different.”

                  Now we’re trying to figure out what color Converse goes with rose gold.



                    I started my new job as a full-time faculty member a few weeks ago. I’ve been busy- in all the best ways. It’s been great. And in the meantime, here’s what’s happening in the rest of my house:

                    • Cammy, for whom jobs keep falling into his lap, has scored yet another awesome job. He’s working at a nearby athletic facility, once again recommended to the facility by someone who knows him. His hair continues to get more and more luxurious. He is a junior and starting to be much more serious about looking at colleges, WHAT.
                    • Lishie ended a season of up-and-down competitions on the upswing, placing 5th overall (and even more exciting: one of the judges placed her 1st her soft shoe round). Now she’s splitting her time between dance and golf AND a boy came to the house and held up a sign, Say Anything-style, asking her to go to Homecoming. This is uncharted territory, my friends.
                    • Addie J finished up her purple belt testing just this week. She’s also changed her Halloween costume from a fox to one of the Disney princesses, to go along with her group of friends. This is much easier for me, so I’m onboard.
                    • Due to my new job, and due to the fact that Dave’s job is based out of Atlanta, he has been home for the after-school runs more often than I have. I told him yesterday that he is the new Mom. He told me that we’re all in trouble. Don’t believe it for a second. (Granted, we’re only a few weeks in. Anything can happen, right?)
                    • So basically, I get up early and get the kids and myself out the door. Afternoons and evenings are a free-for-all and sometimes we’re not home and finished for the night until 9 or later. And our steady schedule of out-of-town every weekend has continued apace (not this weekend, burglars: we’ll be home). So that’s why I’ve been MIA: for all the best reasons.
                    • Speaking of all the best reasons: I’m headed out now for drinks with a friend. I will try to carve out more time to update here in the coming weeks.

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