Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dear Big Brother

Dear Big Brother,

Your birthday is in a few days. 
 You probably received my card, the one that I wrote my phone number in, as I have done in each unanswered letter for the two years since we last spoke, even though my number has been the same since 2001 and I'm sure you have in memorized.

This is my last photo of you, of us together. It was taken nearly four years ago. I think the last time we spoke was around your birthday two years ago. Then you got a new phone and decided I didn't need to know the new number.

A few things have changed in the past two years.  My kids are growing. Emma recognizes you in pictures, but she doesn't remember you. She knows about mental illness, though. Mental health is a topic we talk about openly, and I think that is a good thing. Liam has never met you. I need to start showing him more pictures of you and telling him stories about his uncle.

Though you have asked your social worker to no longer give Mom and Dad updates, we know you are still living in the same apartment, where Barry and I brought your belongings. We also hear that you are doing well, that you are adjusting to life with mental illness. You just aren't ready to deal with family. I respect that. Family is hard.

I spent the first fifteen years of my life looking up to you. I spent the following fifteen worrying over you, fearing for you, sometimes even fearing you. The last three have been spent missing you. 

I just want you to know that I love you. I want you to be happy, to find joy, and to make this life work for you. I want the best for you, even if that means that life has to continue on without any contact with me.

So, Happy Birthday, Big Brother.  I hope it is the happiest one yet. I hope, in some corner of your wild, beautiful mind, you know that your family loves you and wants the best for you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clouds, Rainbows, Sunshine, and Green Hills

I'm in love with today.

Let me back up so you can peek at my thoughts...

I did most of my growing up in the same town that I currently call home. As a child, I lived in white-collar suburbia and had great experiences attending amazing schools within walking distance of my family's home. Now, we live in blue-collar suburbia on the other side of the tracks. All of the schools around here are very good, but we live within walking distance of the two lowest scoring schools in the district. When the time came to enroll my kid in kindergarten, I had a decision to make: Should I send her across town, to a better school that requires me to drive each and every time, or should I stick to our own neighborhood?


We walk to school almost every morning. I chose the school nearest home. Yes, it has low test scores. Yes, all of the women and children's shelters in town feed into the school so it has a bit of a transient population. Yes, we walk through two blocks of "the gang" area of town during our daily half-mile commute.
But you know what? I love it.

I love that my children really experience our neighborhood. I love that these streets, sidewalks, trees, and power poles are familiar daily sights. I adore her school, the teachers there are devoted to giving their students the fighting chance they will need in this life. I love the school community and the opportunity to help make a difference where there is a greater need than at those "better" schools across town. I love the diversity. My children are going to grow up bilingual and bi-literate, at a school where they learn in two languages every day. My kids will know and love cultural traditions different from their own, and they will be better for it. It is beautiful and I am grateful that I can give them this opportunity.

This morning, we walked to school under big clouds and blue sky. The sun was bright, and the rainbow in the distance was a wonderful treat. I held my babies' hands and explained the wonder of water refracting white light. We decided that rainbows are like pennies on the sidewalk: they are omens of good luck.

I am certainly feeling lucky.
I am in love with today. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Book Worm

I have blogged in the past about the books I've read each year. I'm ashamed to admit that in 2015 I only read eleven books and listened to one audio book.

I started keeping track of my reading in 2010, the year Emma was born. That year I read eight books, which isn't so bad for having a newborn. In 2011 I read THIRTY books! I'm not sure how I accomplished such a feat, but I've never been able to read that many again. Each year I read less and less, and I it makes me sad. 

My lack of reading is probably due to the increased number of children I care for on a daily basis. I have also lost the luxury time that used to come when my kids napped. Now, I have no alone time. Ever. I also have very little free time in general. I think I have more friends and social interactions, so that's a plus, but I miss being alone (or with a pet or two) on the couch in a quiet room, sucked into a good book. 

Here are the books I read in 2015. I enjoyed them all. 

  • The Tao of Pooh - Hoff (Fun book. I'd like to read more about Taoism.)
  • Chances Are - Abramson 
  • Hatchet - Paulson 
  • The Hundred Foot Journey - Morais 
  • The Mistress's Daughter - Homes 
  • Still Alice - Genova 
  • Ticker - Mantchev (My first ever steam punk novel. That was fun!) 
  • Between Shades of Gray - Septys 
  •  The Princess Bride - Goldman 
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk - Faber & Mazlish
  • Cinder - Meyer (This was my first Audio Book, and it's the first in a series. I need to listen to the next two...) 
  • Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith - Newel & Avery (I only read about half of this one before it was due back to the library!)
Sadly, I'm STILL in the middle of a great book that I borrowed from a friend a few months ago. It is called Spindle's End by Robin McKinley. I need to finish it!!!!! 

This year, in addition to blogging more, I'm hoping to read more books. I'm in a book group, so I have one book a month already planned, but I'd like to read even more. 

What books have you read lately that you really loved?