8 blogs that rock (and why)

Joy, Lovely Joy

Blogs that Rock

*This post was originally published in March of 2013. The original post gets quite a bit of traffic so I decided to update it now, in February, 2015, to reflect some of the blogs that I currently read regularly.

This post is in response to a homework assignment for Holly Becker’s e-course titled Blog Boss. The objective is to feature 8 blogs that rock, two of which need to be fellow classmates’ blogs. I follow so many blogs (and rarely keep up with them on a daily basis), so this task seemed monumental at first. While there are plenty of blogs I check in on from time to time for their eye candy or crafty inspiration or practical purposes (for example, the more technical aspects of photography and writing), I decided, finally, to focus on the ones that speak to me. The ones that pull me in through writing or…

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The Epistolary Tooth Fairy

Matter of order: Upper Central Incisor and Lower Lateral Incisor

Dear Mia,

I don’t usually write to kids because it’s strictly forbidden by the Fairy, Fay & Pixie Code.

According to oath #3 in the Book of Enchanted Winglings, fairies and children are strictly forbidden to interact. (Please don’t be upset. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with protecting our magic.) I could get in trouble with the FF&P Board of Authority, but I’m going to take that risk because I believe that sometimes (JUST sometimes) rules can be bent if the person for whom you’re bending the rules really needs your help. And I think you need my help right now.

I know you’re scared. I know you think pulling out your teeth will hurt, and it might. But only for a split second, pinky promise. And I admire the fact that not even your mommy and daddy’s promise of gold coins and foil wrapped chocolate could tempt you into doing something you felt uncomfortable doing. (By the way, the gold coins and chocolate or WHATEVER appears under your pillow is up to ME and me only. There is strict protocol for these things and all trades must be approved by the FF&P Board of Tooth Trade. Your mom and dad have nothing to do with it, though I’m thankful for their belief and support.)

Here’s the thing: those teeth need to come out. They need to come out because the big teeth are ready to push through, and those are lifetime teeth. They’re the important ones. Okay, the baby teeth are important too. Without them how would you have eaten pizza all these years? And apples…and strawberries…and croissants! Imagine the last seven years without croissants. So, yes, baby teeth are important. Speaking from a professional point of view, however, baby teeth are really just holding places for the big teeth. They’re kind of like maps in that they show the big teeth where to go. Once your jaw muscles are big enough and strong enough (and yours are), it’s time for the big teeth to make their grand entrance. You don’t want to deny your lifetime teeth a grand entrance, do you?

Listen, for the past eight nights I have hovered at your window, waiting for you to fall asleep because I was so sure that TODAY WAS THE DAY. I even fell asleep at your windowsill one night, and that windowsill is not soft. My bed at home is made of tulip petals and golden feathers, a blanket of downy moss to keep me warm. I woke up on your windowsill shivering with stiff wings and an ache in my bum. So please, in the name of all that is soft and feathery and warm, do not make me wait any longer. (I should probably tell you that I’m invisible to you, just in case you decide to hold on to those teeth a little longer in the hopes of spying me at your window.)

So here’s my promise to you: Pull those teeth today, and not only will I leave something under your pillow, but I will also leave a little something extra in the fairy tree for you. You know the one.

You can do this because you are brave.

Love,

Your Tooth Fairy

fairy tree, tooth fairy

The fairy tree, courtesy of my father-in-law

My Caveat to Happily Ever After

“Despereaux squared his shoulders. He had made a decision. He would do as the threadmaster had suggested. He would be brave for the princess.

Even if (reader, could it be true?) there was no such thing as happily ever after.”

The above passage marks the end of chapter 11 in The Tale of Despereaux. As I put the bookmark on the page, Mia snorted. “Of course there is,” she said, referring, of course, to the narrator’s suggestion that happily ever after doesn’t exist. And then after a pause: “Isn’t there, Mommy?”

“Sure,” I said. “Of course.”

I said it without pause or trepidation. I said it wholeheartedly and convincingly. I said it because I want desperately for her to hold on to that innocence, to revel in that space of black and white, for as long as possible, and so I resisted the urge to add a caveat.

My husband has accused me before of being a pessimist but I think I’m just the opposite. I can’t stop myself from feeling emotions anymore than I can stop my cheeks from feeling the bite of a winter wind. But just as I am quick to turn to the darkness, to carry it and protect it until I can find a way to release it, so to do I seek the light. I can see this in Mia already — the way she honors the dark with the light, the revelation that there can’t be one without the other.

That caveat that wanted to slip from my tongue was this:

Sometimes, Mia, happiness isn’t black and white, and it isn’t ever final. If life became one even, pleasing note of happiness, it would cease to be happy. Anyway, life is best lived in the muted shades of gray, turning everything over to examine it on all sides, to ask questions and to answer questions and to push ourselves and to sometimes listen and be still and other times speak up even when it isn’t easy and to advocate for our beliefs (and the beliefs of others if they align with our moral codes) and to never stop growing. None of this is especially easy or even “happy”, but I promise you, Mia, your life will be fuller and you will be more fulfilled and you will start to construct your own definition of happiness and you will revise that definition as you go. Happily ever after will no longer be a goal or an endpoint because you can choose happiness wherever you are in life. Even if the glimmer of light is dwarfed by surrounding darkness, choose happiness. 

happily ever after

Someday I will tell her this. Someday.

*For more on happiness, Aidan at Ivy League Insecurities just wrote a fantastic post on 10 Ways to Be Happier.

11 Months + 1 Year

Twins 11 months

I took this picture on May 19th last year, the boys’ 11 month birthday (back when a turn of the calendar constituted a new milestone). As I recall, they were just beginning to take first steps and I spent my days watching them step and fall, get up and repeat.

Step, fall, get up, repeat.

They slipped, bumped heads, hits corners, and collided when momentum took on speed without brakes, but still they would get up and do it all again. Perhaps knowing that if they just kept trying, kept putting one foot in front of the other, something miraculous would happen.

Now they charge ahead without caution or boundaries, unaware of danger or perpetrators or objects moving at a speed capable of ripping apart our world in seconds.

I both love and fear this stage.

twin boys

I feel like I’ve spent the last 11 months + one year in survival mode, and on what is metaphorically the eve of their second birthday, I’m wondering when exactly my babies became little boys.

I’ve been wandering into their room late at night to watch them sleep. I put my hand close to their noses or gently rest it on their bellies to be sure of their breathing, just as I did when they were infants. Once upon a time, one crib held them both with room to spare but now they look like giants stretched across separate beds.

The thing about raising twins is that rituals and routines become more like assembly lines, which causes everything to happen lightning fast, and this has maybe been the most difficult part for me — the surrendering of a sense of authenticity, of an organic flow to our days, always having to choose who needs me more in that moment. There’s a kind of freedom, a sense of luxury, that comes with a singleton that I didn’t even notice until I had twins.

But then there’s something else too.

These boys speak their own language, something secret and exclusive (or maybe it’s Turkish). They converse mostly in gestures and laughs but every now and then I catch them chitchatting in their native Turkish and it catches my breath, knowing the moment is rare and fleeting. The other day our new neighbors came over with their two year old boy. As we were talking grown up talk, I turned around to see Wyatt and this little boy engaged in a back-and-forth conversation (turns out he speaks Turkish too). Pretty soon Luke wandered over and joined their conversation. And it really was a conversation. The little boy would say something and my boys would wait until he was finished before responding. And the more I watched, the more it became clear to me what my boys were saying: “Look, we like you and we’ll hang out with you, but mess with my brother and it’s over.”

I’ve always said that I might not be able to give them all of me but I gave them each other. To finally witness this bond take shape makes me realize that assembly lines or not, we’ve always had our own little luxuries.

For Boston

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ~Fred Rogers

Every night I lay in bed and thank God for my blessings. No life is without struggle, without pain, without obstacles and dark days, but still I have been blessed. Oh so blessed.

When I read Lindsey Mead’s post yesterday, I was struck by her proclamation of a feeling of “it’s our turn” as I have always felt this way. I say always but that isn’t so. This feeling took root after 9/11 and only intensified after having kids. I inherited my mother’s anxiety (though I think I’m better at masking it somehow), and so I’m always waiting for “my turn”. For the nightmare to become the reality, for the darkness to cast shadows upon my light.

There are some who chastise the media for overdramatizing and sensationalizing events in order to captivate an audience when what we should be doing is acting. I can’t say that I agree completely. Sometimes, as with the Boston bombings, I’m not close enough — physically or emotionally — to connect to the horror without stories and photos. Putting faces to names sparks the fire that calls me to action, and most of the time that action is to pray.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for Boston, for those whose lives are forever altered — sending up my voice with my whole heart. And though it’s only one voice, I know that it joins thousands singing the same hymn, and maybe our collective voice will be strong enough to push back some of the darkness, allowing for more light.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~Fred Rogers

I’m still waiting for “our turn” but I haven’t lost faith in humanity. Look for the helpers, for those whose hearts carry them into destruction. As a friend on Facebook pointed out, as a nation we do not run from fear but straight into it. Perhaps we are all owners of an ingrained courage that comes with having been born to the land of the free, home of the brave. Brave indeed. We cannot control what happens but we can control how we respond, and that is how we conquer hate. Look for the helpers. Love is stronger.