Oliver and Hazel Are Never Ever Ever…

Taylor Swift is a huge favorite in our house, and before the two day road trip from Chicago to Baltimore, I downloaded her new album, Red.  The kids are obsessed.

Here is one of the videos where they show their love and dedication.

My Six Year Old

Everybody is talking about the Newtown shootings.  It is sensational in the worst possible way.  It is already being politicized—it is a conversation starter for gun control, for mental health support, for how awful it is that we are politicizing a tragedy, and for the total fucked-upness of the media interviewing surviving six year olds within hours of their friends and teachers being shot.  There are plenty of pleas for people to stop talking about the political issues swirling around, but to focus on the losses of the family.

For me, I certainly have opinions about guns, politics, and the media, and a lack of well-formed ideas about the ways to resolve the state of mental health in our country.

But first and foremost, I have a six year old.


First graders are something pretty special.  They are smart, they are articulate, they can wipe their own butts (which is HUGE!).  They are moody, they talk back, they whine, and they test boundaries.  They are beginning the awkward phase of missing all of their teeth.  They have crushes, they are navigating friendships.  They take spelling tests, they read, they want to be more grown up, but are also still just kids.

Oliver is six years old (he would tell you six and three-quarters).  He believes in Jesus, he believes in Santa, and he is so frustrated that he hasn’t lost any teeth that weren’t forcibly removed by the dentist.  He wants to like hot sauce like his dad, so he puts it on everything.  He hopes that on his seventh birthday, I will let him have a can of caffeine-free diet coke.  He plays BeyBlades, obsesses over iPad apps, and cries when his friends move away.  He is finally learning how to tell a funny joke (sometimes), and still will give me lots of hugs and kisses and tell me he loves me and that I’m the prettiest lady in the world.


Oliver drives me nuts sometimes, too.  He nags and whines about stuff that he wants.  He doesn’t like to share, and his insistence that he is right all the time is trying on the nerves.  If he doesn’t think something is fair, he will go on and on and on… actually, he will always go on and on…


Oliver’s hair is so long that we could cut off half of it and it would still be longer than anyone else’s in our house.  He insists on keeping it long, even though people mistake him for a girl all the time, because he loves it and thinks it is cool.  He loves swimming and can’t wait to start swimming lessons again.  He adores Taylor Swift and has dreams that she is also six and they play tag together.  He wants to grow up and be a rock star, a singer, a doctor, a cowboy, a scientist, and an adventure writer.  He adores his siblings, and sometimes asks Hazel to climb up to the top bunk so they can snuggle together.  He is infinitely patient with Henry and doesn’t get mad when Henry pulls his glasses off, tries to tear up his books, or takes up so much of my time that we aren’t able to do all the fun things he wants to do.  Oliver describes himself as “a little bit serious”, but you can crack him up by talking about bodily functions or making up silly songs.


And all I have been able to do since he stepped off the school bus on Friday is look at him, and make sure that I cherish him.  It doesn’t help anyone else; it doesn’t make anything better, or help the victims and their families.  I’m hugging him extra tightly, and we are saying extra prayers.  I cannot imagine life without my sweet boy.



I can’t lessen the loss for the victims’ families.  I can’t answer the political questions or come up with a solution to prevent this from happening again.  But I can love my family a little bit harder, and try not to take for granted the wonderful family that Kullervo and I have created.  I will be a little less distracted when I’m with my kiddlywinks.  I will read with them more often, watch more movies together, play a little bit harder, and pay attention to how amazing my kids are.  It is the only way that I know of to honor and respect those who no longer have that privilege, and would do anything to deal with one more tantrum if it meant one more day.


Hazel’s Teeth

These days, Hazel and I spend a fair amount of time in the car.  We play a lot of music, probably too loud, and sing and dance.  We have a great time.

So, and this is one of Hazel’s favorite jokes to play on us, today she got quiet.  Since it was her song choice (“‘We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together Like Ever’, Mommy”), I checked her out in the rearview mirror to make sure she was okay.  Since we moved to Baltimore, she and I have been occasionally prone to bouts of tears, so I was concerned.

I asked her if she was okay.  She just looked at me.  I stopped at a red light, and turned fully around to see her more closely.  And this is what I saw.



When we got to the store, I asked her to come closer to let me take a better picture.
photo (1)This little girl is somethin’ else, let me tell you.  There is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t crack me up.



Last night, I was sitting at the kitchen table with the kids while they ate dinner.  Oliver and Hazel were trading made up (and thus, not funny) knock knock jokes and cracking each other up.  Henry was staring at them, fascinated, with a half-smile on his face, like he was trying to get the jokes. 

They stopped laughing, and Henry looked back and forth between the two of them, and then started laughing.  It was really cool to see him learning the social cues and the turn taking of interacting with others.

So I told the kids to start laughing again, and I took a video of it.


We Moved To Baltimore

Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta, two houses in Holmdel, multiple homes (and lack of) on Amelia Island, two apartments in Knoxville, Tallahassee, Harlem, Knoxville again, Silver Spring, Chicago, and now Baltimore.  I’ve moved more than a dozen times in my life (and I’m not even counting my summer abroad in Panama or the summer we spent back on the Lower East Side of Manhattan).  Moving out and moving on has been a part of who I am, what makes me me.

I generally make friends quickly, but I don’t make best friends.  I try to be a great friend to other people, but have a hard time accepting the same level of friendship from others.  I don’t open up to people, I don’t like being vulnerable or admitting that I need help and can’t do everything all by myself.  I’m a bit of a gypsy.  And I sort of like that.  There are the few friends that have stuck from every place, and while moving is always hard, because it turns out that most places are awesome, there was always a new adventure waiting in the next place.

There have been two moves that were different.  The first was the move from New Jersey to Florida.  I was halfway through my freshman year in high school.  I had a boyfriend (and he was cute!).  I was settled, I was comfortable, I was happy.  I mean, I was 14, so I was plagued with all of the usual insecurities, melodrama, and self-doubt.  The bombshell dropped—we were moving to Florida.  It was devastating.  We moved over Christmas break, and I spent New Year’s Eve alone in my bedroom, drinking two wine coolers (scandal!) and sobbing on the phone with my old friends who were all together at a party.

A life again later, I lived in Chicago.  The timing brought together that perfect confluence of preschool kids, a wonderful city block, and stubbornness that being ‘city kids’ wouldn’t mean my kids didn’t spend as much time as possible playing outside.  I met people.  And over time, I made friends—the kind of friends who called me on my crap and who insisted on being there for me when I was certain I didn’t need it… but really did.

Moving away has been just awful.  Aside from all of the regular craziness of moving, this is the first time we have transferred a kid from one school to another.  We are also in a bit of a transient living situation right now—we are living in an apartment while we look for a house to buy.  So we don’t feel settled, and it is hard to want to settle down when you know you’re probably, hopefully, going to be moving again within a year.

And so I am fifteen again, crying in my bedroom.  I am filled with all of the hesitation of not wanting to call the people I miss because I’m afraid they’ll get annoyed, or think that I should just move on already.  All of the insecurities and self-doubt are back.  This time, at least, I got to bring my cute boyfriend and my fantastic kids.

I know that it will get easier.  One day, I will love Baltimore, and it will feel like home.  But for now, it is gut-wrenching.  But I also feel so lucky that I have so many wonderful people in my life, and that my life in Chicago was so full of light and laughter and love that makes it hard to leave.