Friday, January 29, 2016

Remembering & What I Know For Sure

A few weeks ago Tim and the kids sat down at the computer and were looking at old blog posts I'd written. It was fun to go back through old posts and old pictures. 

Remembering is good most of the time. It's weird to see how small everyone was just a few years ago, sort of bittersweet. But it was just mostly sweet remembering and retelling the led to more remembering and more stories. 

When I was a kid I loved putting together picture albums for my family and how all of us gathered around them, looking, laughing and remembering. The computer is now like our old photo album.

I know for sure that it's good to do some remembering with the family and I'm grateful I have this blog to help tell and preserve our stories.

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • Speaking of stories, I can't wait to hear more stories...Listen To Your Mother stories. It's that time of year again and I love it. Our show in Detroit is on Sunday, May 1 and tickets will be on sale soon. But first we are holding auditions. If you know anyone with a story to share about motherhood, send them to this link--

  • Ramona Forever! I loved Beverly Cleary books growing up. My parents gave me Ramona Quimby Age 8 on my 8th birthday and it was THE best gift ever. Even though my own daughter was all "eh" not so into them, I will always and forever love Ramona Quimby. In honor of Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday, a few of her books are being reissued with some pretty famous forwards.  Here's one of my favorite forward quotes from Amy Poehler about our girl Ramona.
“In today’s world, where people are always searching for ‘strong female characters,’ Mrs. Cleary was ahead of her time. Ramona was a pest! She was irascible and uncompromising! She was allowed to be angry and was not afraid to stand up to boys!”— Amy Poehler, on Ramona Quimby, Age 8

  • Wade is a beast on the basketball court.  This kid is fearless and so ready to play.  

He doesn't have a lot of

  • This video is LOVE. I've professed my love before for Dallas Clayton's work, but I hadn't seen this video interpretation of one of his books before and HOLY WOAH I LOVE IT!!!!! Seriously worth the watch. Beautiful stuff.
  • An Awesome Book of Love from Furlined on Vimeo.

  An Awesome Book of Love from Furlined on Vimeo.

  • Speaking of love, man I love Dax Shephard and Kristen Bell. I'm sure you've seen their Africa video. No? Watch it or rewatch it. It's awesome.

  (click here to watch the video)

  • Speaking of Dax, I miss Parenthood the TV show so much (um which Dax was on, remember?).  I miss watching a TV show that made me laugh and cry and was about families. Waaaaa. I am over Shondaland. 

What do YOU know for sure this week? 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Past 81 Days

It's been 81 days since Peyton broke his femur during a football game. It's gone fast but taken forever. It's been full of worry, frustration, anxiety, remembering and reminding, patience, a sense of humor and gratitude. 

Yesterday, we went back to the surgeon for a check up. We sat in the crowded waiting room for over an hour. It took the doctor 10 minutes to look over the X-ray, ask a few questions and tell us good luck and that he'd see us back in nine months.

This is it, a healing femur with pins and a plate. Crazy.

Peyton was so happy. I was so happy. It was over. We went to lunch to celebrate. Looking back over the past 81 days there are parts that I will actually miss...the opportunities to sit in waiting rooms with my boy and laugh at each other as we fumble through learning to use SnapChat, or going to lunch together in the middle of a school day,  or watching a movie together while the rest of the family goes sledding. I've spent so much one-on-one time with my 14-year-old and enjoyed every minute of it. We've talked about what high school might be like next year, the NFL, the presidential election, my liberal world views and his dad's more conservative views and what his own views are, books, friends, social media, the importance of lyrics, the poetry of rap music and SO MUCH MORE. I will forever treasure this time with my first born.  

"I hope we don't only go out to lunch when you are recovering from an injury," I told him as I drove him back to school after our celebratory lunch.  "I have loved hanging out with you, you know. I hope we do this every once in a while for forever.  I hope you come home from college and say 'hey, want to go to lunch Ma?'," I told him and we laughed because he doesn't call me "Ma."

I love this kid. He is smart and strong and so kind.

Hopefully I've learned to be a more present parent, a better parent. A parent that takes the time to talk, to connect, to go out to lunch, to listen, to sit with and enjoy my kids more.  When there's an opportunity to talk and/or connect with my older kids and no one is rolling their eyes, I hope I take it.

There are other lessons from the past 81 days. Hopefully I've learned to be full of more empathy and gratitude and to pay it all forward. My heart kind of exploded with compassion for families that have children with chronic illnesses or life situations that require hospitals, therapies, appointment after appointment, and insurance companies and wheelchairs and check ups and so much more.  When Peyton got injured and had surgery, I knew he would recover. I can't imagine not knowing. 

All of this has made me want to do something, anything, to help people that need it. I want to hold more doors open, go to the rallies to support candidates, get informed, volunteer at the hospital, pay better attention to friends and strangers that might need more kindness or help. I want to say thank you more. I want to pay more attention to....well, everything.

Peyton is determined to get his strength back and compete on the track team for his school. Even though I know I will always worry that it's too much (I mean probably forever right?), I will be cheering from the stands(I mean probably crying too, right?). And then maybe he and I will go out to lunch together.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Baby of Four-Storytime

I knew it was going to happen, I mean I'm not a parenting rookie.  I also know this isn't the last time that Wade says something slightly inappropriate in class.  Wade is the baby of four kids...he is the kid that I had to remind that not every other preschooler would enjoy his Gollum impression (the creepy dude from the Lord of the Rings movies, yeah Wade does a "My precious!!!" impression that is freakishly good), he is the kid that understands football better than a lot of adults, he is the kid that just asked if he could "get twitter."   

Don't get me wrong, we don't let him watch R-rated movies, he doesn't have his own phone or kindle or iPad or anything else electronic, he isn't allowed to say bad words or even slightly bad words like "butt" or "this sucks."  BUT he knows way more about life and seen way more Disney XD than my 14-year-old did in kindergarten.  And that is why I wasn't too surprised by what he recently shared during story time.

My baby boy proudly brought home the picture he drew, and the story he wrote about and shared with his entire kindergarten class. The picture and the story
of his dogs humping, or "huping" as he wrote. Yup, that's right. 

This is THE picture.

I can only imagine the conversations around the dinner tables of his classmates that night. "mommy what is humping?" or "a boy told a story today about humping." Ahhhhhh!  And I can only say "I'm so sorry."

Our kitchen table conversation that night was mostly muffled giggles and me sternly looking at the older kids silently screaming at them to knock it off, but then we ultimately all had a good laugh. Because it won't be the last time something like this happens, and having four kids has taught me you have to laugh at so much of life.

And just in case you forgot, here's a clip of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

(Click here to watch the video.)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Nope and What I Know For Sure

It's been an interesting year so far, all three weeks of it.  I've been sick for a good chunk of it and that has sucked. But just like bad moods and cloudy days make you appreciate good moods and sunshine, being sick has made me so damn grateful for the good old normal exhausted I usually feel. It's all about perspective! 
I was so sick that even Lucy in all her pre-teen moody glory right now came to comfort me and even took a sick selfie with me. 

In the past three weeks, I got back into a groove working at the preschool, started my new writing gig, went to an amazing storytelling show in Detroit, got to say yes to some great things but had to say no to some great things, tried not to spread germs, called in sick, slept a lot, cried, watched movies, went to the doctor (just a virus, whaaat?!), drank tea, had some pretty heavy conversations with the older kids, tried to help one of the younger ones out with math homework (um, worse than being sick), missed deadlines, made deadlines, agreed to work more hours at the preschool and finally started feeling better yesterday.

Life doesn't stop when we get sick....we just have to keep moving in a fog. 

This was at the ultra hip storytelling show I went to in Detroit. Most favorite sign maybe ever....instead of "stairs closed" or "do not enter" it's just a "nope." The BEST! That's what life said to me, "nope, not going to stop because you have a dumb cold, nope." Ha!

But now that the fog has lifted, I know for sure that I appreciate being less foggy and I want to dance in my kitchen and go play in the snow and have a real weekend.

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • Enjoying the winter is more fun than complaining about it. The pond froze around the same time my fog lifted, so we hit the ice. Our first time skating this year and it was a blast. 

It was Wade's first time really skating, and scoring on skates. It was a blast!

  • I am in love....with J.Lo. Um, because she is beautiful and so talented. I mean right? I love her on American Idol and now I love her new show. AND I want to go to Vegas to see her new live show. She is my idol. For real. ***Except I didn't love the episode of Shades of Blue last night.***

  • My dogs are a lot of work, but I love them.

  • Electronics are my nemesis except when everyone is cuddled up looking at pictures on someone's phone. Awwwww.

  • Speaking of electronics, I joined SnapChat but I know for sure that I know nothing. I am totally clueless but curious. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • This is a great video and message for daughters. 

(click here to watch the video.)

What do YOU know for sure right now?  How's your year going so far? Tell me here in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK Day 2016

Last summer I took my kids to Graceland. It was a last minute, spontaneous trip. It took us two days to drive there. I really had no plans.  After we took part in the cheapest tour available we perused the gift shops and some of us (okay me, just me) danced through the parking lot singing Elvis songs.  "Now what?," asked one of my kids when we climbed back into our minivan.

"Well, I have no idea," I honestly told them. "I guess we should find a place to sleep and then see what's interesting in Memphis."

It turns out there's a lot of interesting in Memphis....there's energy and history and heartache and joy and music and rivers and bridges and people and conflict and more music.

We drove by the famous Beale Street with it's loud blues-y music and barbecue and motorcycles and happy drunk people.  We drove along the banks of the Mississippi River. We stopped in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Museum.  

The museum was closed but we got out of the car to get a closer look. As we walked up the street toward the museum, a bar on wheels zipped past us with happy drunk people squealing in delight while they pedaled. We walked past a protester sitting quietly next to a sign about disenfranchisement (turns out the protester is as famous as the museum, she's been protesting for over 20 years).  The sun was setting and casting a strange light on the whole scene. It was surreal.

My kids are more familiar with Martin Luther King Jr than Elvis  They were reverent, they were respectful. The outside of the museum looks exactly as it did the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Some people have described it as eerie. I would describe it as heavy and haunting.  

Even though the museum was closed, there were video monitors outside and the kids watched and listened to the stories. We talked about what life was like in the 1960s especially in the South. We talked about what life is like now. We talked about Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy. We talked about how we fit into it all.

It was an interesting time to be driving with my kids in the South and having these conversations. It was the summer the tragic racially motivated shooting happened in a Charleston church, it was the summer the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, it was the summer that conversations got louder about taking down the Confederate flag on government buildings. Driving through Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama and back to Michigan with my kids and talking about all of it  and seeing so much will be one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life.

But just like in the parking lot of Graceland, I find  myself saying "now what?"  How do I keep those conversations going? How do I keep trying to figure out how we fit in all of this? This being a world like Memphis full of injustice, but also history and heartache and joy and music and rivers and bridges and people and conflict and more music. How do we live the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. every day?  

The only thing I can figure out is the way to live the legacy is caring and then doing....doing whatever we can. Raise kids that are aware of history and compassionate and empowered to create change. Be kind to people. Volunteer. Donate clothes. Serve food. Raise money for the community center or the charity that helps sick kids. Run for office. Get involved. Protest. Make something better. Sit by a bedside of a sick friend. Shovel the driveway of a neighbor. Vote. Teach. Preach. Get a platform. Practice compassion. Listen. Learn. Paint. Write the check. Lift up. Don't judge. Be patient. Put love and light into the world.

And jump at opportunities to serve whenever we can. I live in a town north of Detroit and south of Flint. Two cities that need so much more love and light. I can't solve all the problems but I can do something. I can let people know how they can help. I can talk to my kids about it. I can donate water to Flint (to learn more about the Flint water crisis click here). I can volunteer at Cass Community Social Services in Detroit.  And so can you.

Here's how to help Flint:

A fund has been established to address the short- and long-term needs of Flint children exposed to lead through contaminated drinking water. Donations can be made at
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 39020 Five Mile in Livonia, is asking for gallon jugs of water to be dropped off at the church by Jan. 30. Volunteers will take the donations to be distributed in Flint. Call 734-464-0211. 
Flint Community Schools is accepting cash donations and bottled water. Call the district's finance office at 810-767-6030 about cash donations. Bottled water drop-offs can be coordinated by calling 810-760-1310. 
Donations are being accepted by the United Way of Genesee Count.: Visit and click on the "GIVE" button. There's an option to support the Flint Water Project. Call 810-232-8121 for details. A new phase for outreach is investment in services to help residents who have been exposed to contaminated water.
Catholic Charities of Genesee County accepts cash or bottled water donations to aid soup kitchens and warming centers, call 810-785-6911. 
To help Flint community activists who are delivering water: Call Melissa Mays at 810-423-3435.
Compiled by the Lansing State Journal

That's what MLK Day is all about. 

Watch this video about how it's meant to be a day of service - click here. The people in the video say the greatest way to honor MLK on this day is for "people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to celebrate the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others." 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to Routines (And Some Pics W/My Fancy Camera)

It's been a hectic week and a half getting back to work and school and routines. I kind of can't even believe Christmas and New Year's Eve/Day was just a couple weeks ago. The pace of life is fast and my head is spinning a little. This whole working mom thing is no joke! It's been good, it's been upsetting, it's been fine, it's been fun, it's been up, it's been down, it's been ahhhhhh!

Getting back into routines has been a little bit like El Nino...all weird and confusing. But we are trying to make the best of it, as we do. 

Here are a few pictures from the last couple weeks of the past couple weeks (some pics pre- dive back into regular life): 

We spent a few days in Pittsburgh. It's the home base for part of my family and my dad and brothers and sister meet up after Christmas every year at my dad's house. I love Pittsburgh.

El Nino was at it big time in the was 70 degrees on December 28! Whaaat?

Fun fact about Pittsburgh...Tim and I fell in love in this city. I lived there, he lived in Detroit area and we had a long distance romance for 6 months.

My dad has a Karaoke machine and OH MY GOD I LOVED IT!!!!!! And somewhat surprisingly so did Peyton. 

Oh El Nino....I sense a dark and stormy change on the horizon...

After we got home we did the New Year's Eve thing, but I fell asleep before midnight. Waaaa. Then we kicked off the Youngblood winter sports season with Wade's basketball game. 

Last weekend it was sunny and warm and weird. I know everyone loves the warmth, but we live in Michigan and it's January and it's not right!  I like things in order,  no breakfast for dinner for me. I like winter in January summer in July. But it was nice to get the kids outside.

The day after the basketball in the driveway we got snow!!!! And everything was as it should be. Thank you weird El Nino weather pattern.

The trampoline is fun in the winter too!!! 

Rufus and Cosi were so excited about the snow.

 Check out some other pictures I've taken with my Fancy New Camera: